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Hemp And The US Farm Bill Framework

There’s been significant movement on the now very much overdue reauthorization of the USA’s Farm Bill. Here’s what’s happening at this point regarding hemp.

US Congress passes legislation every five years that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. Commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill”, it was the 2018 Farm Bill that legalised hemp and recognised it as an agricultural commodity like any other.

But the way hemp was defined left a loophole that was quickly exploited. Through omission, it permitted products containing high levels of intoxicating THC compounds, if those compounds were made by manipulating non-toxic hemp-derived CBD. The wide availability of these products, including to minors, has seen various states heavily regulate or ban these products.

Last month, 21 attorneys general across the USA urged the Committee On Agriculture to tighten up the definition of hemp in the new five-year reauthorization of the Farm Bill, with view to closing the THC loophole at a federal level.

But so far, no dice.

On Wednesday, Senate Agriculture Committee Democratic leadership released a 94 page summary of their Farm Bill draft. In relation to hemp, it states:

Sec. 10015. Hemp Production

  • Defines “industrial hemp” and lowers regulatory barriers for farmers who are growing industrial hemp for grain and fiber.
  • Eliminates the ban on persons who were previously convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance from participating in the program or producing hemp.

No mention of the THC issue.

The House Agriculture Committee Republican leadership also released a five-page summary of its framework for the Farm Bill. Changes to hemp weren’t mentioned at all.

While there is a major push from some to have the definition tightened to ban all forms of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids, not everyone is on board. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable believes it could result in the prohibition of popular hemp products that it says “have rescued the industry and farmers in recent years”. Furthermore, the organisation believes  even non-intoxicating full spectrum CBD products could be caught up in a hemp THC ban.

“We continue to lobby Congress against such restrictions and are hopeful that our approach – regulating all products and keeping products that may impair out of the hands of children – will prevail in the end,” says the group.

Key hemp players including the US Hemp Roundtable  released their Farm Bill wish list in April last year.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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