What does the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill mean for hemp and CBD?

By Joy Johnston

If you've been following hemp-related news recently, you've no doubt heard about the Farm Bill.

The legislation, formally known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, includes several major provisions, from increasing subsidies to farmers to permanent funding for farmers  markets, local food programs and veteran and minority farmers. For those interested in using hemp-derived CBD, the most important aspect of the 2018 farm bill is that it legalizes the production of hemp.

On December 20, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law.

Here's what the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill means for hemp and CBD consumers, with information from the fine folks at Ministry of Hemp:

  • Industrial hemp removed from Controlled Substances Act: If you have been leery about purchasing hemp products online due to their murky legal status, the Farm Bill of 2018 completely legalizes hemp at the federal level. While the bill allows states to continue to prohibit people from growing hemp, state governments cannot interfere with the interstate commerce of hemp. This means you  should be able to order hemp-based CBD products online and have them shipped to any state in the country.

  • Moving from DEA to FDA oversight: While finally putting an end to treating hemp as a controlled substance is something to celebrate, FDA involvement with hemp and CBD products will create its own set of challenges. With the hemp and CBD industries under the purview of the FDA, greater oversight and regulations could occur. Making sure companies adhere to basic safety guidelines when creating their products is a win for consumers; but if the FDA is too heavy-handed with regulations, some legitimate companies could be forced out of business. The hope is that with the CBD market growing at phenomenal levels, the FDA will be pressured into taking a more sensible approach when it comes to regulation.

  • Definition of industrial hemp unchanged: If you live in a state where marijuana is not legal, you may have hoped that the Farm Act would increase the amount of THC allowed to be in hemp. Cannabis must test at less than 0.3 percent THC to qualify as legal industrial hemp; any hemp crops with 0.4 THC or above must be destroyed.

  • Does legal hemp mean legal CBD products? It's complicated and will become more clear as the FDA takes over the regulation of all things hemp. Advocates hope that the FDA will establish an oversight role, and mainly focus on ensuring quality and safety guidelines for the industry. In the past, the FDA has only targeted CBD vendors for making unproven health claims. No one expects any immediate action, so if you are able to purchase CBD products currently, you should be able to continue to do so as the law takes effect.

  • Your support is key: We need to keep the pressure on the FDA to establish sensible and reasonable guidelines and regulations for hemp products. As caregivers, your opinion is especially valuable. Share your story about how CBD products have improved your life with your local politicians, doctors and media outlets. I have experienced the positive effects of hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products myself. There is no such thing as a miracle drug, and hemp-based CBD products do not provide relief for everyone. The effects are more subtle than one might experience from pharmaceutical options, but there are also few detrimental side effects. For those of us looking for healthier options for pain and anxiety relief, hemp-based CBD appears to be a smart choice.

DISCLAIMER: The passage of the  Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 will take awhile to fully implement. It is up to the consumer to verify that the CBD products they purchase and use are legal in their state.

The FDA has not evaluated the health claims of CBD products. Cannabidiol (CBD) products have NOT been proven to treat, relieve, nor cure any disease or medical condition. Individual results will vary. A doctor's advice should be sought before using this and any drug or supplement product.