US Farm Bill 2018

Why the US Farm Bill is so important to the CBD industry

If you live in the UK, you may not have paid much attention to the news in December 2018 that President Trump had signed the US Farm Bill into law but its passing was a cause for celebration for those in the CBD industry.

The Farm Bill is renewed every four years and for the first time ever, the US Government has legalised the growth, distribution, and sale of industrialised hemp, allowing it to be “cultivated for any use” – including the production and extraction of CBD.

That means Industrial Hemp and any hemp derivative is no longer on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as it’s now been legally separated from marijuana (which still falls under the CSA) and now comes under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Agriculture.

The Bill outlined strict regulations for all CBD products derived from Hemp:

  • The Hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC (the compound that is responsible for the psychoactive ‘high’)
  • The Hemp must adhere to shared US state-federal regulations
  • The Hemp must be grown by a properly licensed grower

For centuries, Hemp has been a fibre and oil seed used around the world for the production of various industrial products such as textiles, as well as consumer products.

For example, Hemp seed oil is used in foods such as salad and cooking oils, and we’re used to seeing it as an ingredient in soaps, shampoo and cosmetics.

Despite the fact that neither hemp nor hemp-derived CBD contains significant amounts of THC, until December 20, 2018, hemp was categorized as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, the main federal criminal law regarding prohibited drugs, alongside narcotics such as heroin. 

Industrial Hemp comes from the Cannabis Sativa L plant and whilst neither hemp nor hemp-derived CBD contain high amounts of THC (the chemical which causes the ‘high’ we associate with Marijuana) it has always been classified in the United States as a Schedule I controlled substance and regulated under the Controlled Substance Act.

This is where the confusion and negativity around hemp CBD come into play. Marijuana is a different variety of the Cannabis sativa L. plant and does contain high levels of (THC).

The low THC hemp-derived CBD products are legal in many countries around the world as long as they don’t contain THC levels of 0.2% or 0.3% in the U.S.

What this means for the CBD industry

Hemp CBD is already available in a range of wellness products and the new law does open the door for more companies to enter the market. However, despite the fact that there is more clarity, the US Government has maintained strict rules around what claims can be made about CBD products.

This is because some CBD manufacturers have made claims that their products are effective in treating and preventing certain health conditions and diseases.

This is still forbidden as the FDA has stipulated that these types of claims would mean the products are subjected to drugs regulations, which requires prior approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). In addition, products would need clinical trials to establish their safety and efficacy.

Anyone making such claims is breaking the law on both sides of the Atlantic and until there is more research on the benefits of CBD, it is a sensible regulation to protect consumers.

That said, the 2018 Farm Bill does open the door for the CBD market to continue to grow as hemp producers and businesses are now free to expand their businesses without fear of prosecution as long as they are fully compliant with the Bill.

We hope the Bill also speeds up further regulation around CBD’s status in the U.S. which, when it happens, will hopefully lead to a more level playing field for the industry such as being able to advertise in the same way as non-CBD brands do.

The bill is definitely a step in the right direction, and in a market that’s projected to be worth $22 billion by 2022, we are also likely to see an even greater number of businesses bringing new hemp CBD products to the global market.

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