For Presence Marketing Newsletter, July 2018
By Steven Hoffman
Industrial hemp and full spectrum extract products derived from hemp, popularly known as “CBDs,” referring to products rich in hemp-derived cannabinoid compounds, may become recognized as legal throughout the nation if the 2018 Farm Bill advances with the inclusion of the Hemp Farming Act sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and a bi-partisan group of supporters including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
The Hemp Farming Act, which has now been attached to the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill - expected to become law this year - would permanently legalize hemp in the U.S.
The Farm Bill passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on June 13 with a 20-1 vote, with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) being the sole “no” vote after his amendment to exclude hemp extract products was not included in the proposed farm bill. The vote moves to the Senate floor, but hemp industry and CBD advocates warn that Sen. Grassley may yet attempt to negotiate elements of his amendment into the 2018 bill, and that the industrial hemp industry needs to remain vigilant.
Hemp industry watchdogs are concerned because the day before the Senate Agriculture Committee vote, Sen. Grassley filed an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill which seeks to redefine hemp to exclude “derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, from Cannabis Sativa L.” The purpose of the amendment as stated in the document is, “To modify the definition of the term ‘hemp’ and to require the Attorney General to make a determination as to whether cannabidiol should be a controlled substance and listed in a schedule under the Controlled Substances Act and to expand research on the cannabidiol and marihuana [sic].”
Currently, growing industrial hemp is legal on a federal scale only for research purposes or if it’s under a pilot program in select states that have legalized it. According to Jonathan Miller, the general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, an industry advocacy group, the proposed Farm Bill includes the ‘Hemp Farming Act’ sponsored by Sen. McConnell and endorsed by 25 other senators.
According to Sen. McConnell, the Farm Bill is scheduled to be voted on by the end of June. From there, it must then go to the U.S. House of Representatives for further consideration. “The House may not pass it, and it might not include hemp in their bill, said Miller in a statement. But, if it passes with the current language, then, hemp-derived CBD would be legal from a federal perspective.”
However, observes Fresh Toast, a cannabis lifestyle publication, “This will only be the case if President Trump signs the bill into official law. In the past, President Trump hasn’t publicly expressed his views on hemp. Last week though, the President told various reporters that he supports ending the federal ban on marijuana. If President Trump stays true to his word, the move would be historic because it would result in removing the substance from its current Schedule I classification. Although the President has expressed his views to end the federal ban on marijuana, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions has quite the opposite view.”
One thing is certain: if industrial hemp becomes permanently legalized in the U.S. through passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, it will be a boon to farmers, natural products retailers and marketers, and consumers seeking more natural alternatives for health.
Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural, providing brand marketing, PR, social media, and strategic business development services to natural, organic and sustainable products businesses. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.