There were many political battles between Republicans and Democrats over the content of the bill. Negotiators from both chambers finally reached an agreement. As a result, they could push through the legislation, which includes a budget of $867 billion. To cover farm subsidies, forest management, rural broadband access, urban agriculture, and conservation programs.
The 2018 Farm Bill does not include benefit cuts. Nor does it change work requirements for the food stamp program. This is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. It also boosts the initiative to provide job training. To help more people move into full-time jobs. In 2018, the Senate passed Farm Bill 87-13. Then, the House voted 369-47 in favor of the legislation.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is one of the many varieties of the cannabis Sativa plant. Unlike marijuana, Hemp contains deficient levels of its psychoactive component. This is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is what gets you high. Marijuana comes from the same genus of plants, but they contain much higher levels of THC. Think of Hemp as if it were marijuana’s puritan cousin. As you can imagine, the two strains have very different uses.
Due to its high levels of THC, people often use marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. But Hemp has a much more diverse set of applications. It is a fast-growing plant. Producers frequently use it at an industrial level to manufacture clothing, paper, or rope. But you’ve probably come across it for its dietary and cosmetic benefits (unless you’re a rope or paper enthusiast).
When deconstructed, Hemp’s benefits and uses increase. Specialists consider hemp seeds as great food due to their excellent nutritional value. They are rich in protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, and minerals. Not a bad set of accolades for such a small component of the hemp plant.
What is in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bill?
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 is the new law in force in the United States. This one legalized Hemp at the federal level, in addition to approving other minor issues. Concerning Hemp, in addition to legalizing it, it imposed strict controls on its planting and production. It also established regulations and protections for its farmers.
One of the main problems with Hemp not being legal at the federal level is transportation between states. Theoretically, even if two states had legally approved Hemp or marijuana. They would not transport products between them, as that is the purview of federal law. This new law explicitly states that the transportation of hemp-based products between states is okay. In addition, it removes any restrictions on the sale and possession of Hemp and hemp-based products in general.
Legalization does not imply liberalization—quite the contrary. The new hemp regulations strictly regulate cultivation. Governments and laws often set a THC limit to separate Hemp or medical marijuana from other psychoactive cannabis. The new U.S. law set the boundary for legal Hemp at a meager limit: 0.3% THC. This does not represent any problem for Hemp that will be used for textile production. But it could create difficulties in the case of medical cannabis.
On December 20, 2018, the President of the United States signed into law the Agriculture Improvement Act. Better known as Farm Bill 2018. The 2018 Farm Bill has as its primary objective to create a safety net for the economic viability of agriculture. This is through the Crop Insurance (for most productions) and Commodities (for specific productions) programs. Sixty-seven percent of the resources dedicated to agricultural activity are for the safety net. 29% devotes to environmental conservation, mainly water, and soil. The remaining 5% is for structural investments.
Why Did They Make Hemp Products Legal?
Since 1937, Hemp, like all varieties of cannabis, Hemp is under the Marihuana Tax Act. In addition, since 1970, in the Controlled Substances Act. That classified it as a prohibited substance in the first category, along with all cannabis. The 2018 legislation legalized Hemp in the United States at the production and consumption level.
However, growing Hemp will not be like growing anything else. This plant must have less than 0.3% THC. In addition, to grow it at an industrial level, different authorizations will be needed. The states, for their part, will establish joint regulations among themselves and with federal agencies. Also, the regulation promotes hemp research.
Several attempts finally ended with a bipartisan consensus in both houses of the U.S. Congress. All to pass the bill. Texas Republican Congressman Mike Conaway introduced the rule on April 12, 2018. The Senate reached a consensus. The rule became a bipartisan effort. One of its leading proponents was Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. On June 21, the rule passed the House by a slim majority of 213-211. Where it passed with 86 votes in favor and 11 against on June 28.
Subsequently, the legal norm was still processed through a joint committee. The final approval came on December 10 in the Senate, with a vast majority of 87-13. The next day the same thing happened in the House of Representatives. It passed by a vote of 369-47. On December 20, the rule received presidential promulgation, which officially put it into effect.
The States Where Cultivation of Hemp is Legal
Hemp and its derivatives are no longer in the Controlled Substances Act. Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill. Thus, the plant went from being in Schedule 1 of Narcotic Drugs to being redefined as agricultural. Also legal at the federal level. That is, in the 50 states that make up the country. In addition, being destined to boost the agricultural industry, it is estimated to bring significant economic benefits.
Paper, textiles, food, construction materials, medicine, cannabidiol (CBD) articles… More than 25,000 products will be produced with Hemp from January 1, 2019, in a legal way. The USA has become part of the global market. In this way, a plant that has been fundamental in world history is legal. It is once again closer to being considered as a crop. No longer controlled and sanctioned as a narcotic drug. As it had been until now.
Why are Farmers Treated Like Others Farmers?
What happens to those who grow Hemp in the United States after the passage of the new law? They will have the same rights and facilities as any other farmer and planter. This is because Hemp has become just another product to be planted—no distinctions beyond THC regulations. In this sense, hemp farmers will be able to access different protections from the State. Such as those contemplated in the Federal Crop Insurance Act. These are usually used in case of problems with crops.
In addition, the fact that research can be done on it favors farmers. Conducting scientific research on a plant that is considered banned in the United States is cumbersome. The new hemp regulation recognizes and supports the importance of research on this variety of cannabis to learn more about what it provides and its health benefits.
At the moment, to research cannabis, the product must be obtained through the Marijuana Program. However, it is not entirely clear whether there are facilities to access cannabis for research. This is because cannabis is a Schedule 1 substance on the DEA’s list. However, the legalization of Hemp could lead to it being used more freely. To do new research without having to resort to the Marijuana Program and its bureaucratic red tape.
The Farm Bill is an annual law that oversees regulations and funding for the entire U.S. agricultural industry. This year one thing was noteworthy, as it finally included the federal legalization of industrial Hemp. This regulation ends more than 80 years of federal prohibition. In addition, profits are estimated to reach more than $22 billion by 2022.
This historic step had a precedent in 2014. Back then, President Barak Obama signed a version to be able to use Hemp in research programs. Already in 2017, 19 states cultivated more than 25,000 acres of the plant. However, this situation still had limitations. Every State was regulated, and most of the Hemp was still imported.
Many questions have not been resolved yet. There are still many uncertainties that, we suppose, will become clearer as the days go by. The benefits are many. Industrial hemp farmers will be able to do basic things that were unthinkable until now, like deducting their expenses from taxes. Or to be able to access federal insurance for their crops. Or apply for a loan or water rights.