The new Hemp Farming Act of 2018 officially debuted on the Senate floor yesterday. On April 12, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the bipartisan bill that would, if passed, see industrial hemp regulated as an agricultural crop and remove it from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
The predecessor 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Obama, legalized the growing of hemp solely for research purposes—for instance, by state departments or universities. But the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 goes much further, classifying hemp ingredients (with THC levels under the 0.3% threshold) as an agricultural commodity and removing federal “roadblocks” to the growth of industrial hemp across the U.S. Accordingly, hemp formulated into food and beverages would be considered agricultural ingredients. The hemp phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) would also be considered an agricultural commodity, said the lobbyist group U.S. Hemp Roundtable, which represents a coalition of hemp companies.
Hemp industry advocates strongly support the 2018 Hemp Farming Act. U.S. Hemp Roundtable said on its website that the bill’s authors “listened closely to farmers and the industry in drafting the legislation.” As a result, “the bill covers nearly every item from the U.S. Hemp Roundtable’s dream wish list,” it said. Those items include:
Removing hemp—specifically, the parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant with THC concentrations less than 0.3%—from the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that these hemp parts would no longer be considered Schedule I drugs. U.S. Hemp Roundtable further pointed out, “Better yet, the bill is even more expansive than the 2014 Farm Bill in that it specifically de-schedules all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, and seeds of hemp as long as those portions of the plant remain below the THC threshold. This means that popular hemp food products like hemp-derived CBD would be considered agricultural commodities, not controlled