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How the 2018 Farm Bill Impacted the Hemp Industry

The 2018 Farm Bill was a large 867-million-dollar package signed into legislation with the purpose of providing reform and continuation of agricultural and other programs. Though a small title within the bill, one of the biggest impacts the bill had was on the hemp industry.

What is Hemp?

Hemp is in the same Botanical class as cannabis, and it is one of the fastest growing plants. It has many uses, from industrial to medicinal; Industrial Hemp is cultivated for the sole purpose of utilizing its fiber and seeds, while medicinal hemp is grown for its flowers to use in research and CBD oil. Hemp produces little to no THC, which is the psychoactive compound that provides the high associated with marijuana.

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History of Hemp

In the early years of the development of the United States of America, hemp was an essential and mandatory crop. It had many uses, from paper, sails, and rope for ships. The first draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Hemp was so important that America’s first laws, passed in 1619, stated that only farmers could grow hemp, and anyone else would be arrested.

Related: Regulatory amendment to allow farmers to grow higher THC cannabis

In 1850, hemp was the United States’ third largest crop. It was also a form of legal tender until the early 1800s. Unfortunately, in the early 1900s, hemp was considered a threat to both the logging and synthetic fiber Industries. That, paired with its similarity to marijuana, prompted the passage of the Harrison Drug Act of 1937, which classified hemp as a legal substance, and since then, other laws have declared the cultivation of hemp in the US illegal.

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What is the Farm Bill?

The 2018 Farm Bill had a large impact on the agricultural industry, the most interesting of which was hemp. In legislation, hemp was defined as a cannabis plant, and the only difference between hemp and cannabis is that hemp contains less than 0.3% of THC.

The bill legalized the cultivation of hemp and hemp products, as long as they maintain less than 0.3% of THC. Anything with more than 0.3% is still classified as cannabis and illegal.

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Why was the Farm Bill Introduced?

The Farm Bill was passed in 2018 to aid our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and forest managers. The bill put in place has provisions that will provide support, stability, and certainty by improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs, creating farm support programs, and promoting voluntary conservation.

Hemp was included in the agricultural legislation, and it opened up the opportunity for more industrial and medicinal hemp farming. It also listed hemp as a covered commodity under crop insurance.

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Impacts on Hemp

The 2018 Farm Bill has a few impacts on hemp and outlines some important things.


The bill outlines what actions are considered federal violations of hemp law. These actions include growing hemp or cannabis with more than 0.3% THC, as well as cultivating without a grower’s license. Punishments for the violations are what activities qualify as felonies are detailed in the bill, but the bill also outlines what actions violators can take to be compliant.

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The 2014 Farm Bill served to generate and protect the research of hemp; the 2018 version extends the protections for hemp research and the conditions where such research can be conducted. Section 7501 of the Farm Bill includes hemp under the Critical Agricultural Materials Act.

Related: 2018 Farm Bill: What you need to know


Under the Farm Bill, hemp is now treated like other agricultural commodities. It is available for protection under the Federal Crop Insurance Act. There is a large market for industrial hemp, as thousands of goods can be derived from the substance. As the market for industrial hemp grows, there is more of a need for hemp farmers.

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Under federal law, CBD was removed from the Schedule 1 status under the Controlled Substances Act as a hemp-derived product; however, this doesn’t legalize CBD generally. CBD and the products it is infused in, along with other cannabinoids, are only legal if they meet the requirements of the Farm Bill, federal regulations, state regulations, and if they’re cultivated by a licensed grower. Otherwise, they are considered cannabis products and are illegal.

State Programs

With this new bill, there is now shared regulatory power over the cultivation and production of hemp. The federal government has its own requirements, and states must submit their plans to license and regulate hemp for approval.

The bill also allows the transportation of hemp products across state lines for commercial use, regardless of the legality of the substance in the state.

Now that hemp is federally legal, there is going to be more interest in it as the market for it continues to grow. It’s important to know that, even though hemp is federally legal, there are still some states that haven’t legalized it. When purchasing or traveling with hemp, be sure to check your state’s regulations.

How the 2018 Farm Bill Impacted the Hemp Industry

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