Farm Bill; So Whats New?

April 19th, 2019 by Cara Oorbeck

Farm Bill Updates 2019
BY Op-ED Blogger Quinton Charles

Since December…

Many of us are excited about the farm bill updates that was passed last December, in 2018 (and was signed in on the 20th), myself included. So what has happened? We know that it has legalized the industrial-scale growing of hemp, but what has been happening since then? On February 27, 2019, the AMS (Agricultural Marketing Service) extended the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, which legalized production and research on hemp by universities or organizations/companies permitted by state departments of agriculture, by 12 months.

So What Does That Mean?

That means that, right now, the USDA is planning to issue regulations for the 2020 planting season and that current regulations are the same as before the 2018 bill passed. The 2018 Farm Bill provides that States, Tribes, and institutions of higher education, can continue operating under authorities of the 2014 Farm Bill. So right now, unless a state allows for a change, private companies need permission to grow hemp on a large scale.

Problem With Identification

One of the bigger problems that has been coming up more and more frequently is from police incorrectly identifying hemp grown for CBD as Marijuana. The police are just trying to do their job, but no one really knows how to fix the problem that the cousin plants are easily confused for one another. CBD is federally legal, as is hemp, but some truck drivers on interstate routes have been pulled over and sometimes arrested because police believed that they were transporting marijuana. Since the only way to distinguish the difference is by testing the THC content and most police are not equipped with the testing technology, they are unable to differentiate the legal from the illegal. Nothing has been passed, yet, but Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has stated that he is willing to work on legislation that would fix these “glitches” in the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill. Hopefully, future legislation will fix these “glitches” and enable legal, cannabis business to proceed!

Proposals For Future Growing

Canopy Growth, a Canadian company and major hemp grower, recently acquired AgriNextUSA, an American hemp enterprise, and proposed creating Hemp Industrial Parks, such as the one previously announced in New York State. This super crop (hemp) could be “fast-tracked through a production cycle that would result in commercial applications for all parts of the plant, from root to tip. American farmers will benefit from a model that provides a single, regional destination for their hemp crops and connects them with the researchers, entrepreneurs, and innovators whose ideas will turn their crops into new products and industries.” This development, waiting for next year’s planting season, could mean a large hemp crop, and, with it, lower prices on hemp products like CBD!

States? Or Federal?

As of right now, most legislation requires state approval and regulation of anyone growing cannabis; most regulation is up to in the individual states, not Federal law. For example, Georgia just passed a law allowing for up to six industrial cannabis growing licenses (which also includes strains with THC content, in addition to strains with higher CBD content). Since Federal policy is currently using the older rules of the 2014 Farm Bill, all states have to comply with the rule limiting industrial-scale production of hemp. The only way to implement the 2018 Farm Bill rules, which allow industrial-scale production, is for states to enact their own laws now before the Federal rules have been fully implemented (which should occur at the end of this year).

I Can’t Wait Any Longer?

While it may seem that progress is moving slower than many of us would like, the laws are out there and on the books. We need only to wait for the rules to be fully implemented by the USDA and then we will see nationwide cultivation of hemp, and all of the benefits, both financially and environmentally, that this will bring. I know I’m excited to see what the future will bring.

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Reference:

www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2019/04/12/usda-update-farm-bill-implementation-progress
www.foxbusiness.com/markets/mcconnell-willing-to-offer-hemp-bill-to-resolve-glitches.am
www.wabe.org/georgia-general-assembly-legalizes-in-state-medical-marijuana-cultivation
www.nifa.usda.gov/industrial-hemp
www.newcannabisventures.com/canopy-growth-extends-american-hemp-reach-with-acquisition