The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (read the text HERE) was introduced to the Senate by McConnell and Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), with a companion bill to be introduced to the House of Representatives by Congressman James Comer (R-KY).
This would remove industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, and allow it to be regulated as an agricultural crop. It also authorizes and encourages access to federal research funding for hemp, and removes restrictions on banking, water rights, and other regulatory barriers the hemp industry currently faces.
It would also authorize crop insurance for hemp and expand federally legal commercial hemp cultivation to tribal lands, reservations and U.S. territories—lands that had previously been omitted in Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, which allowed only for hemp farming programs in ‘States.’
While previous hemp-related farming bills had included a role for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Sen. McConnell’s bill places federal regulatory authority of hemp with USDA, requiring state departments of agriculture to file their hemp program plans with USDA, and allows them to regulate hemp cultivation per state specific programs, noted Vote Hemp president Eric Steenstra.
In addition to defining hemp as Cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% THC (hemp comes from Cannabis sativa, the same plant species as marijuana, but contains little to no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) by dry weight, the bill asserts a ‘whole plant’ definition of hemp, including plant extracts.
“The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
And this is good news for CBD, Steenstra told FoodNavigator-USA.
“He [Sen McConnell] is making it very clear that CBD is included in the definition and will be part of the industry.”
The Hemp Industries Association added: "This language protects the legality of production and consumption of the diverse array of hemp derived products, including hemp extracts such as cannabidiol or CBD—a hemp product that is recently the subject of DEA scrutiny per the administration’s 2016 attempt to regulate CBD products as 'marihuana extracts.' Federal adoption of a 'whole plant' legal definition of hemp will further validate the legitimacy of hemp products as non-drug commodities, thus strengthening confidence among consumers and catalyzing the expansion of the US hemp market."
The situation today
While it is legal to sell and consume foods and beverages containing hemp seeds in the US, it is the only major industrialized country that outlaws domestic hemp production at a federal level (except for R&D purposes/ag pilots in select states under the 2014 Farm Bill), which has prompted many companies to source product from overseas (largely Canada).
Hemp seed – an oilseed typically planted in June and harvested in October – has strong nutritional credentials, containing 25-35% protein; fiber; the short chain omega-3 fatty acid ALA; plus a small amount of the lesser-known fatty acids gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which has anti-inflammatory properties; and stearidonic acid (SDA), which the body converts into the heart-healthy longer chain fatty acid EPA more efficiently than it converts ALA.
Read more about industrial hemp HERE.
“Senator McConnell, our colleagues and I are going to keep pushing to make sure that if Americans can buy hemp products at the local supermarket, American farmers can grow hemp in this country.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)