2018 was a huge year for hemp.
While the hemp industry has been steadily growing since President Barack Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill, the bill limited use of hemp to agricultural and academic research within a higher-education setting and only in states that chose to legalize it. In 2016, individual states all over the USA voted and began to accept hemp as an industrial crop. However, hemp was still not classified as legal and remained a grey area in federal law. Our federal law stated that all “cannabis” was illegal, and while hemp is not the same species as the high-THC cannabis sold in dispensaries (like Cannabis Sativa & Cannabis Indica), by scientific classification the plants have the same genus - Cannabis. Cannabis ruderalis (hemp) is known for its low THC and high CBD content. There was no original distinction that hemp (cannabis ruderalis) and THC cannabis (cannabis sativa & cannabis indica) are separate plants. Further research has recently shown that they are, in fact, different.
Based on our national laws, states were allowed to individually legalize hemp before the federal government recognized it as an industrial crop. However, the companies working with hemp and hemp farms were limited to remaining in the states in which hemp was legal. Registered hemp farms were state-legal after 2014, but without national recognition, resources were limited. The US banking system would not process payments for hemp, which made commerce around hemp products incredibly difficult within legal states. Under state laws, hemp farms were legal, but still not recognized nationally.
In 2017, more than 38 states and Puerto Rico had bills regarding legislation around hemp.
Fast forward to 2018. As more states continued to legalize hemp farming, national awareness around the plant grew and legislators took notice, marking the beginning of legalization on a national level. In December 2018, The Agricultural Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) passed in both the House and the Senate which nationally recognized hemp as an agricultural crop. Woohoo! Through a redefining of the former blanket term “cannabis”, the federal government granted cannabis ruderalis a place on the national list of legal agricultural crops. This means industrial hemp is more supported than ever before.
Not only did hemp receive agricultural recognition on a national level, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, & Oklahoma all voted to legalize hemp within the state. The 2018 Farm Bill says that states must submit a plan to regulate hemp production, and to date, there are 11 states that have not legalized the plant: Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington DC, Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, South Dakota, Iowa, and Idaho, although we expect to see new legislation announced in 2019.
We are eager to see where this new legislation takes the hemp and CBD industry nationwide! 2018 brought a new definition for hemp and cleared the path for more sustainable farming. Instead of importing hemp into the US, we can now source materials locally, avoid the import taxes that drive prices up, and create new jobs in a new industry. What an exciting time to be alive! 2019, we’re ready for all of the hemp growth, are you?