The 2018 Farm Bill has enormous potential to change the landscape of the hemp industry in the United States. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018, a part of the larger 2018 Farm Bill, would fully legalize industrial hemp and all products made from it, including CBD oil, in the United States. This would represent a drastic change from the prohibitive status hemp has maintained for the better part of the last century. While the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 has many vocal supporters, including Senator Mitch McConnell, the 2018 Farm Bill must still be reconciled in committee before it can be officially passed and signed into law.
At the beginning of August, both the Senate and House of Representatives named the members of the conference committee tasked with reconciling the differences between the Senate’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill and the version passed through the House of Representatives. In a rare move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell named himself to the conference committee. The Hemp Farming Act, a provision of the Farm Bill only contained in the Senate’s version, was sponsored by McConnell and co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of more than two-dozen senators. Hemp is big business in Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, which was home to one of the country’s first hemp pilot programs. While the House version of the Farm Bill is silent on the issue of hemp, there is no doubt the conference committee will be considering the hemp language as McConnell fights to ensure the Senate hemp language prevails.
If the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 makes it into the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill, it will be no small victory for hemp. Under the new law, the DEA would no longer be able to interfere with hemp. Combined with the FDA’s recent approval of Epidiolex and the DEA’s impending rescheduling of CBD, 2018 could bring massive change to an industry that has already seen massive growth operating in a legal grey area.