Earlier this month president Trump signed the 2018 farm bill into law. One of the key provisions in this bill is that industrial hemp is now legal in the US. There is currently a lot of speculation as to what the outcome of this new law will be. Some are speculating that this will lead to the eventual removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and the end of cannabis prohibition in the US. Others are not quite as optimistic, stating that the bill will have little or no impact on the legality of cannabis. So, the question remains, where will the impact be felt? What sector of the cannabis industry will be changed forever? Wii the greatest impact even be felt inside the cannabis industry?
What Does the Farm Bill Actually Do?
First, let’s look at what the 2018 farm bill Trump just signed actually does. The bill legalized hemp by effectively removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. Note that this only includes hemp, and not cannabis plants containing THC. Cannabidiol, aka CBD, the non psychoactive component of cannabis that you may have noticed is starting to pop up everywhere from health food stores to your favorite local coffee shop, is missing from the language of the bill.
How Might Legalizing Hemp Impact CBD
Now that hemp is legal, how will this affect the billion dollar CBD industry? As it stands the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still has the ultimate say in what CBD products make it to market and what do not. This is not likely to change at any time soon. For the record the FDA still considers CBD to be a “drug ingredient” and as such will still require approval. Cannabis advocates of course hope to change that, but considering the people who run the FDA right now are all holdovers from the pharmaceutical industry, we won’t see a relaxing of these rules anytime soon.
One thing to consider is that large corporations are showing increasing interest in CBD and are coming out with their own CBD products, for instance beverages, all the time. The legal grey area in which CBD exists has kept some companies, such as the Coca-Cola company at arms reach. A reversal on the FDA’s ruling would certainly encourage more companies to get involved.
How Will the Government Regulate Hemp?
The last thing to consider is how the government would choose to regulate hemp and how stringent the rules would be. One can speculate that the US Department of Agriculture would have restrictions regarding who is and is not allowed to grow hemp. This would of course mean requiring permits, a move that would benefit large corporate farms and ultimately harm small farmers.
Overall will this be beneficial for the industry? Yes it probably will, but whom this bill actually benefits will remain to be seen.
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Will legalizing hemp help or harm the cannabis industry? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!