Hemp Farming Act of 2018

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The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was a proposed law to remove hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) from Schedule I controlled substances and making it an ordinary agricultural commodity. Its provisions were incorporated in the 2018 United States farm bill that became law on December 20, 2018.

Hemp low-THC Cannabis plant

Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.

<i>Cannabis</i> A genus of flowering plants belonging to the hop and hackberry family

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. The number of species within the genus is disputed. Three species may be recognized: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis; C. ruderalis may be included within C. sativa; all three may be treated as subspecies of a single species, C. sativa; or C. sativa may be accepted as a single undivided species. The genus is widely accepted as being indigenous to and originating from Central Asia, with some researchers also including upper South Asia in its origin.

2018 United States farm bill United States Law

The 2018 farm bill or Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 is United States legislation that reauthorized many expenditures in the prior United States farm bill: the Agricultural Act of 2014. The $867 billion reconciled farm bill was passed by the Senate on December 11, 2018, and by the House on December 12. On December 20, 2018, it received President Donald Trump's signature and became law.


In late March 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would introduce legislation legalizing hemp production in his state, Kentucky, and nationally. [1] [2] [3] McConnell introduced the bill, S.2667, on the Senate floor on April 12, 2018, co-sponsored by Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. [4] [5] McConnell announced that Representative James Comer of Kentucky would introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives. [6] The companion bill, H.R. 5485, was introduced on April 12, with Colorado Representative Jared Polis co-sponsoring. [7]

Mitch McConnell U.S. senator from Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader

Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. is an American politician serving as Kentucky's senior United States senator and as Senate Majority Leader. McConnell is the second Kentuckian to lead his party in the Senate, the longest-serving U.S. senator for Kentucky in history, and the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senate leader in history.

Ron Wyden American politician

Ronald Lee Wyden is the senior United States Senator for Oregon since 1996. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served in the United States House of Representatives from 1981 until 1996. He is the current dean of Oregon's congressional delegation.

Jeff Merkley United States Senator from Oregon

Jeffrey Alan Merkley is an American politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Oregon since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to his election to the Senate, Merkley was a five-term member of the Oregon House of Representatives representing the state's 47th district, in central Multnomah County at the eastern side of Portland. From 2007 to 2009 he was Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives.

In addition to removing low-THC cannabis from regulation under the Controlled Substances Act, the 2018 act would avail hemp farmers of water rights and federal agricultural grants, and make the national banking system (in a gray area for the cannabis industry [lower-alpha 1] ) accessible to farmers and others involved; and allow for other benefits of production of a recognized crop such as marketing, agronomy research, and crop insurance. [2] [8] [9]

The removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most tightly restricted category reserved for drugs that have "no currently accepted medical use," has been proposed repeatedly since 1972.

The cannabis industry is composed of legal cultivators and producers, consumers, independent industrial standards bodies, ancillary products and services, regulators and researchers concerning cannabis and its industrial derivative, hemp. The cannabis industry has been inhibited by regulatory restrictions for most of recent history, but the legal market has emerged rapidly as more governments legalize medical and adult use. Uruguay became the first country to legalize recreational marijuana through legislation in December, 2013 Cannabis in Uruguay. Canada became the first country to legalize private sales of recreational marijuana with Bill C-45 in 2018 Cannabis in Canada.


Hemp production in the United States essentially ceased in the 1950s due to market conditions and federal regulations. [10] [11] [12] Since the mid-1990s, there has been a resurgence of interest in the United States in producing industrial hemp. [13] Executive Order 12919 (1994) identified hemp as a strategic national product that should be stockpiled. [14] [15]

The 2018 legislation was preceded by a failed Industrial Hemp Farming Act (109th Congress [House] and 114th Congress [Senate]) and a hemp- and CBD-related attempt to amend to the Controlled Substances Act (114th Congress); [16] and the Agricultural Act of 2014, which created a regulated, national agricultural hemp pilot program under which states could create their own pilot program regulations. There existed "ongoing tension between federal and state authorities over state hemp policies" due to non-cooperation of the DEA with state programs, [17] and lawsuits brought or threatened by farmers and states against the DEA. [18] [19] The DEA and conflicting Federal court decisions regarding "low THC content [hemp] and marijuana of greater THC content" [20] left a perplexing environment for would-be producers with "general uncertainty about how federal authorities will respond to production in states where state laws allow cultivation", especially after the Justice Department's 2018 recission of the 2013 Cole Memorandum. [21] By 2018, groups calling for de-scheduling of hemp included the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the National Farmers Union and the National Conference of State Legislatures. [18]

Agricultural Act of 2014

The Agricultural Act of 2014, formerly the "Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013", is an act of Congress that authorizes nutrition and agriculture programs in the United States for the years of 2014-2018. The bill authorizes $956 billion in spending over the next ten years.

Cole Memorandum

The Cole Memorandum was a United States Department of Justice memorandum issued August 29, 2013, by United States Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole during the presidency of Barack Obama. The memorandum, sent to all United States Attorneys, governed federal prosecution of offenses related to marijuana. The memo stated that given its limited resources, the Justice Department would not enforce federal marijuana prohibition in states that "legalized marijuana in some form and ... implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana," except where a lack of federal enforcement would undermine federal priorities.

American Farm Bureau Federation Lobbying group in the United States

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), more commonly referred to as Farm Bureau (FB), is a United States-based lobbying group that represents American farmers and ranchers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Farm Bureau has affiliates in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

In April, the Senate invoked Rule 14 and skipped over committees or debate, and placed the bill directly on its calendar. [22]

The 2018 farm bill was sent to conference committee in mid 2018. The Associated Press noted appointment of first-term Representative James Comer, a Republican Kentucky hemp supporter and the state's former agriculture commissioner, to the committee. [23] The compromise version of the farm bill reached by both houses of Congress in late November, 2018 – after McConnell put himself on the conference committee – includes the hemp provisions of the Hemp Farming Act. [24] [25] [26] Roll Call called passage of hemp legalization a "an early plank of the Kentucky Republican [Mitch McConnell]'s 2020 re-election bid" soon after the $867 billion farm bill was passed by the Senate on December 11, 2018, signed by McConnell with a hemp pen. [27]

State reactions

In October, 2018, with House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill being reconciled, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture made plans to begin harmonizing state-level hemp THC testing in anticipation of passage of the Federal act. [28] [29]

See also


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The use, sale, and possession of cannabis over 0.3% THC in the United States, despite state laws, is illegal under federal law. As a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis over 0.3% THC is considered to have "no accepted medical use" and have a high potential for abuse and physical or psychological dependence. Cannabis use is illegal for any reason, with the exception of FDA-approved research programs. However, individual states have enacted legislation permitting exemptions for various uses, mainly for medical and industrial use but also including recreational use.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009 (H.R.1866) that was introduced during the 111th United States Congress by House Republican Ron Paul of Texas) and House Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts) on April 2, 2009. It sought to clarify the differences between marijuana and industrial hemp as well as repeal federal laws that prohibit cultivation of industrial, but only for research facilities of higher education from conducting research. Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, oil-seed and fibers varieties of, predominantly, the cannabis sativa plant. Hemp is a sustainable resource that can be used to create thousands of different products including fuel, fabrics, paper, household products, and food and has been used for hundreds of centuries by civilizations around the world. If H.R.1866 passes American farmers will be permitted to compete in global hemp markets. On March 10, 2009, both Paul and Frank wrote a letter to their Congressional colleagues urging them to support the legislation. This bill was previously introduced in 2005 under the title of Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2005.

Medical cannabis in the United States

In the United States, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is legal in 33 states, four permanently inhabited U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as of January 2019. Fourteen other states have more restrictive laws limiting THC content, for the purpose of allowing access to products that are rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis. There is considerable variation in medical cannabis laws from state to state, including how it is produced and distributed, how it can be consumed, and what medical conditions it can be used for.

Cannabis in California

Cannabis in California is legal for medical use since 1996, and for recreational use since late 2016. The state of California has been at the forefront of efforts to liberalize cannabis laws in the United States, beginning in 1972 with the nation's first ballot initiative attempting to legalize cannabis. Although it was unsuccessful, California would later become the first state to legalize medical cannabis with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. In November 2016, California voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. The use, sale, and possession of cannabis over 0.3% THC in the United States remains illegal under federal law.

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James Comer (politician) Kentucky politician

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Cannabis in Wisconsin is illegal with the exception of non-psychoactive CBD oil and industrial hemp. Various fines and prison terms apply to cannabis possession, sale, or cultivation. CBD oil was legalized in 2014, but under tight controls and for a very limited number of conditions, primarily seizures. Wisconsin was historically a major producer of industrial hemp until 1958, though a 2017 law has re-opened Wisconsin for hemp farming.

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Cannabis in South Carolina, United States, is illegal for recreational and medical purposes, but use of low-THC CBD oil is allowed for certain conditions.

Hemp in Kentucky

Kentucky was the greatest producer of hemp in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries, when it was the source of three fourths of U.S. hemp fiber. Production started to decline after World War I due to the rise of tobacco as the cash crop in Kentucky and the foreign competition of hemp fibers and finished products. In 1970, federal policies virtually banned the production of industrial hemp during the War on Drugs saying all Cannabis sativa is a Schedule I controlled substance. Federal law under the Agricultural Act of 2014 allowed research back into hemp. Kentucky began production again with 33 acres in 2014. As of 2016 harvest season, only two U.S. states other than Kentucky had over 100 acres (40 ha) in hemp production: Colorado and Tennessee. The first 500-acre commercial crop was planted in Harrison County in 2017, and research permits were issued for over 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) that year. The 2016 documentary Harvesting Liberty concerns the 21st century Kentucky hemp industry.

Hemp in Washington State has emerged as an experimental crop in the 21st century.

Hemp Industries Association v. Drug Enforcement Administration, often shortened to HIA v. DEA, refers to two lawsuits concerning the legality of cannabis extracts and other products from the hemp plant that have very low or nonexistent natural THC levels, including CBD oil, in the United States. The first is from 2004 and the second is from 2018.

Hemp in the United States

Hemp in the United States has gone from a legal crop in the 18th and 19th centuries, to a banned substance in the 20th century, and has returned as a legal crop in the 21st century. By 2019, the United States had become the world's third largest producer of hemp, behind China and Canada.

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  1. McConnell announces hemp legislation with Ky. Ag. Commissioner, Lexington, Kentucky: WKYT-TV, March 26, 2018
  2. 1 2 Morgan Gstalter (March 26, 2018), "McConnell bill would legalize hemp as agricultural product", The Hill
  3. Senator Mitch McConnell (March 26, 2018), Senator McConnell and Commissioner Quarles Announce Hemp Legislation (press release), United States Senate official website
  4. Alicia Wallace (April 12, 2018), "Hemp Farming Act of 2018 introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell", The Cannabist , The Denver Post
  5. S.2667, United States Senate official website
  6. Mitch McConnell (April 12, 2018), Senators McConnell, Wyden, and Merkley join efforts to support hemp farmers, processors, and product manufacturers to capitalize on this growing industry (press release) via United States Senate official website
  7. H.R. 5485, U.S. Congress official website
  8. Elizabeth Nolan Brown (April 13, 2018), "Reason roundup: Congress moves to legalize hemp", Reason blog, Reason Foundation
  9. Alicia Wallace (April 12, 2018), "Hemp Farming Act of 2018 introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell", The Cannabist , The Denver Post
  10. Johnson 2017, p. 7.
  11. Shepherd 1999.
  12. Hopkins 2015, pp. 193–208.
  13. Johnson 2017, p. 14.
  14. Executive Order 1219, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  15. About Industrial Hemp (PDF), New Mexico Legislature, retrieved April 14, 2017
  16. Johnson 2017, p. Summary.
  17. Johnson 2017, p. 17.
  18. 1 2 Rick Barrett (February 15, 2018), "Farmers, Drug Enforcement Administration at odds over hemp", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  19. Rachel Chason (April 4, 2017), "NC hemp commission considers joining lawsuit against DEA", The News & Observer , Raleigh, NC
  20. Johnson 2017, p. 19.
  21. Johnson 2017, p. 21.
  22. Senate fast-tracks bill legalizing hemp as agriculture product, The Hill, April 16, 2018
  23. Comer Gains Seat on Farm Bill Conference Committee – A Kentucky congressman has been chosen to serve on the conference committee assigned to negotiate a final version of the federal farm bill., Associated Press, July 18, 2018 via US News
  24. Melissa Schiller (December 10, 2018), "Cannabis Industry Anxiously Awaits 2018 Farm Bill Vote", Cananbis Business Times, Mitch McConnell inserted language from his Hemp Farming Act of 2018 into the Farm Bill to legalize the cultivation and sale of [cannabis]
  25. Teaganne Finn, Erik Wasson, and Daniel Flatley (November 29, 2018), Lawmakers Reach Farm Bill Deal by Dumping GOP Food-Stamp Rules, Bloomberg, The bill includes a provision that would make hemp a legal agricultural commodity after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky championed the proposal, even joining the farm bill conference committee to ensure it would be incorporated. Among other changes to existing law, hemp will be removed from the federal list of controlled substances and hemp farmers will be able to apply for crop insurance.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  26. Bruce SCHREINER (November 28, 2018), McConnell's year-end wish: Getting Congress to legalize hemp, Associated Press
  27. Niels Lesniewski (December 11, 2018), "Mitch McConnell Touting Victory With Hemp Legalization on Farm Bill", Roll Call Issue is becoming an early plank of the Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election bid
  28. Sophie Quinton (October 12, 2018), "On the brink of being legal, hemp still faces challenges", High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, Dodge City, Kansas: High Plains Journal
  29. Skelton, George. "Why does California's public health department treat CBD like poison?". latimes.com. Retrieved June 3, 2019.


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from the Congressional Research Service document "Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity".

Further reading