U.S. Congress Legalizes Hemp

Today, the House and Senate delivered a final version of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill, to the President for signature into law.
The Farm Bill is an unprecedented step forward for the hemp industry, and removes many of the legal obstacles to hemp businesses in the United States. You can find the full text of the Farm Bill here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2/text

Under the Farm Bill, hemp, and hemp products including CBD derived from any part of the hemp plant are now federally legal and will no longer be treated the same as marijuana under federal law. The Farm Bill’s legalization of hemp includes “extracts, cannabinoids, and derivatives” of hemp, such as CBD. The Farm Bill also excludes naturally occurring THC found in hemp from the CSA. The Farm Bill removes hemp from the definition of marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). The Farm Bill adopts the existing federal definition of hemp: hemp is Cannabis sativa L., with less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.

The impacts of legalization of hemp are wide-ranging, and will improve access for hemp businesses to banking, advertising, and, merchant card services, and minimize the risk of federal criminal prosecutions and forfeitures for hemp businesses. Hemp farmers will be able to participate in federal crop insurance and competitive federal agricultural grant programs. The Farm Bill authorizes the interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products, and forbids states and tribes from interfering with the transportation of hemp through their territories.

The Farm Bill requires state and tribal governments to implement regulatory hemp programs, which must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the U.S. Attorney General. State and tribal regulations may be more restrictive than the Farm Bill or more restrictive than other jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions may not enact policies that are less restrictive, so states with broader definitions of hemp must change their programs. State and tribal governments must maintain information regarding hemp cultivation sites, testing, and inspection, and law enforcement agencies must have access to these records.

Unfortunately, under the Farm Bill, Individuals with drug felony convictions are barred from participating in legal hemp cultivations for 10 years following their convictions, but participants in state hemp pilot programs under the 2014 Farm Bill are grandfathered in regardless of criminal records. Drug felonies committed after the 2018 Farm Bill passes will prevent any grandfathering even for pilot program participants.

Hemp-derived products for people to consume or put on to their bodies remain subject to the oversight of the Food and Drug Administration under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. McAllister Garfield has valuable experience dealing with FDA warning letters and labeling issues.

If you have questions about the new legal landscape surrounding hemp in the United States, please contact David Wunderlich for a consultation. David represents a variety of hemp cultivators, producers, distributors, and retailers around the country.