2018 Farm Bill
If you’ve done any reading on legal cannabis products, you’ve probably come across discussions about the 2018 US Farm Bill. This was a gamechanger for the cannabis industry, and we have this legislation to thank for the great selection of CBD, delta-8, and other hemp-derived products we see on our local dispensary shelves. But what was the Farm Bill, and how did it affect the cannabis industry? Let’s dive in.
The Farm Bill & Cannabis
The Farm Bill is a very broad piece of legislation passed about every five years or so that addresses or reconfigures policies and programs related to all things agriculture. The 2018 US Farm Bill was important because it completely changed the federal laws around hemp. Before the Farm Bill, hemp and most other varieties of the cannabis plant were federally recognized as marijuana, a “Schedule I” Controlled Substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. According to the US government, Schedule I substances are those that have no recognized medical use and are dangerously addictive; heroin, for instance, is also a Schedule I substance.
Cannabis’ classification as a Schedule I controlled substance made it difficult, if not impossible, to legally farm hemp and produce hemp products, like CBD, for the consumer market. Over the years, some exceptions were made for studying hemp for its agricultural and industrial use, but the 2018 US Farm Bill expanded upon that dramatically. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp—which does not have enough psychotropic cannabinoids (officially known as tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) to induce the effects of marijuana—was re-defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3% THC or less per dry weight, thereby legalizing all products derived from such plants.
After passage of the 2018 US Farm Bill, the cultivation of hemp was allowed in a broad sense, and restrictions were lifted on the production and sale of hemp-derived products. However, it wasn’t a total free-for-all; you still can’t grow hemp or sell hemp products if it goes against the laws of your state, and the USDA has since developed a regulatory framework for the hemp industry that requires communication with local law enforcement, coordination with the Food Safety Administration, and allowing your crops to be sampled to ensure it is within the legal THC limit. Even though it’s now legal in most of the country, hemp remains a tightly regulated crop.
When it comes to consumer hemp-derived products, the Farm Bill opened the market considerably. Under this legislation, products that are derived from hemp are legal to make, sell, and possess, and there are more and more of these legal products hitting the market. One unexpected turn was that hemp producers found that they could extract THC molecules from CBD taken from hemp plants; this provided a legal path to selling THC products. This is how we got Delta-8 and Delta-9 products without legalizing “marijuana” or cannabis in general. The hemp plant also contains other, non-psychotropic cannabinoids, like CBN, that have found their way into a wide assortment of personal wellness products.
Hemp Regulations in Wisconsin
One important thing to note is that the 2018 Farm Bill does not affect state-specific cannabis legalization. As of now, just over half the US states have fully legalized cannabis/marijuana, in a mix of recreational or medical use. These programs are still considered illegal on a federal level, and the Farm Bill does nothing to change that. And there is plenty of legal gray area, depending on the state you’re in, and the source of your cannabis products. In Wisconsin, hemp cultivation and hemp products are legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, you can rely on the experts at your local dispensary to help you stay within the legal lines for your cannabis purchases.
Want to learn more about the 2018 Farm Bill, or how it affects your access to quality cannabis goods? Come down and chat with us at Ignite Dispensary today!