The moment has arrived!
We are so excited to announce that in a matter of hours today at 2:30 pm Eastern, President Trump will be signing the Farm Bill. Tune in at 2:30 PM EST here to watch LIVE.
For those of you who have some questions about what happens next, you are in for a *SURPRISE*! The Hemp Roundtable General Counsel, Jonathan Miller – who drafted this widely circulated summary of the Farm Bill last week — will be hosting a Facebook Live Q&A event at 3:00pm Eastern following the signing! Be sure to like the Hemp Roundtable Facebook page so you receive the notification when he goes live. It’s an exciting time for hemp. We thank you all for everything you have done to get us here, and we look forward to working with all of our Hemp Supporters as this industry keeps moving forward!
ANALYSIS BY U.S. HEMP ROUNDTABLE GENERAL COUNSEL JONATHAN MILLER
Late in the evening of December 10, 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill House/Senate Conference Committee released its Conference Report. The 807-page document is nearly half a foot tall. Hemp is discussed in only a few handfuls of pages. But the impact on the industry is monumental:
• The era of hemp prohibition is over. Hemp is now permanently removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). It is forever deemed an agricultural commodity, no longer mistaken as a controlled substance, like marijuana.
• By redefining hemp to include its “extracts, cannabinoids and derivatives,” Congress explicitly has removed popular hemp products — such as hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) — from the purview of the CSA. Accordingly, the Drug Enforcement Administration no longer has any possible claim to interfere with the interstate commerce of hemp products. This should give comfort to federally regulated institutions — banks, merchant services, credit card companies, e-commerce sites and advertising platforms — to conduct commerce with the hemp and hemp product industry.
• Hemp farmers now may finally access needed crop insurance and can fully participate in USDA programs for certification and competitive grants.
• State and Tribal governments may impose separate restrictions or requirements on hemp growth and the sale of hemp products – however, they cannot interfere with the interstate transport of hemp or hemp products. We are hopeful that local and state officials will follow Congress’ lead, as well as the statements and resolutions of the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that declare, after intense scientific scrutiny, that CBD is safe, non-toxic, and non-addictive.
• The FDA continues to exercise jurisdiction over the regulation of ingestible and topical hemp products. We applaud the agency’s continued efforts to crack down on bad actors who undermine the industry through misguided marketing claims. And while we are concerned about non-binding statements made by the FDA that have led some state and local officials to question the legality of the retail sale of hemp-derived CBD, we are hopeful that we can work with the agency to clarify that CBD – which their own scientists concluded has no abuse potential and does not pose a risk to public health – should not be withheld from Americans who count on it for their health and wellness.
SECTION BY SECTION
• Section 7129 (p. 313): Includes hemp in USDA’s supplemental and alternative crops programs.
• Section 7501 (p. 338): Includes hemp in USDA’s critical agricultural materials programs.
• Section 7605 (p. 347): Orders the USDA Secretary to prepare a report on the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program, and then repeals that program one year after the new permanent hemp program is created.
• Section 10113 (p. 429): The guts of the new permanent legalization regime:
• Section 297A (p. 429) Defines hemp as all parts of the plant less than 0.3% THC, including “derivatives,” “extracts” and “cannabinoids” and permits hemp production in all states and territories.
• Section 297B (a)-(d) (p. 429) Empowers states and Tribes to submit plans to USDA to implement a permanent hemp growing program. Requires information gathering, testing, inspection and disposal procedures. The USDA Secretary must sign off on, or reject, the plan within 60 days, and consult with the Attorney General. The Secretary can later audit state programs and work with the states to develop corrective action plans where there is noncompliance.
• Section 297B(e)(p. 431): Orders states and Tribes to develop procedures to address violations, including corrective action in the case of negligence.
• Section 297B(e)(3)(B) (p. 432): Individuals who commit drug felonies cannot participate in state or Tribal growth programs for 10 years following the date of their conviction. However, participants in the 2014 Farm Bill pilot programs are grandfathered in to participate in permanent programs despite any prior felony committed.
• Section 297C (p. 432): States and Tribes are required to maintain information on lands where hemp is grown and testing, enforcement, inspection and disposal procedures. The USDA Secretary must collect such information to be accessible in real time to local, state and federal law enforcement.
• Section 297D (p. 434): The USDA Secretary is required to promulgate guidelines and regulations and submit an annual report to Congress on the program’s implementation.
• Section 297D(c)(p. 434): Nothing in the new law affects the FDA’s authority under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act or the Public Health Service Act. Section 10114 (p. 435): Nothing in the act prohibits the interstate commerce of hemp, nor can States or Tribes prohibit the transportation of hemp or hemp products through their territory. Title XI (p. 439): Hemp farmers are made eligible for crop insurance, and marketability requirements for the crop insurance program can be waived.
• Section 12619 (p. 540): Hemp is removed from the definition of “marihuana,” and THC found in hemp is excluded from the definition of a controlled substance.
Key notes from the Conference Report Managers’ Summary:
p. 738: The Managers note that “state and Tribal governments are authorized to put more restrictive parameters on the production of hemp, but are not authorized to alter the definition of hemp or put in place policies that are less restrictive.”
p. 738: The Managers note that the USDA Secretary must consult with the Attorney General regarding approval of state or Tribal plans, but “the Managers intend that the final decision to be made by the Secretary.” States or Tribes can appeal or resubmit plans that are rejected or revoked.
p. 739: Any drug felonies committed after the permanent program begins will ban participants from participating, regardless of whether they participated in the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program.
p. 739: The USDA Secretary must make program information accessible in real time to law enforcement, and is encouraged to develop a memorandum of understanding to define the parameters of this information sharing.
p. 739: “While states and Indian tribes may limit the production and sale of hemp and hemp products within their borders, the Managers, in Section 10122, agreed to not allow such states and Indian tribes to limit the transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp products through the state or Indian territory.”
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable is the hemp industry’s leading business trade association. The Roundtable involves more than 60 businesses – representing all parts of the hemp food chain, from seed to sale – as well as all of the major national grassroots organizations in the industry. The Roundtable’s primary mission has been to support lobbying efforts to secure permanent legalization of hemp and hemp products at the federal and state level.
Jonathan Miller, General Counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, is the Member-in-Charge of Frost Brown Todd LLC (Lexington KY) and the former Kentucky State Treasurer.
The Farm Bill conference committee negotiators released the conference report late last night and its excellent news for the hemp industry. Just this afternoon the Senate passed the Farm Bill 87-13.
The bill is expected to be voted on in the House on Wednesday. Then it goes to the Presidents desk. This is a huge moment for everyone who has advocated for hemp farming in the U.S.
However, in honor of the nation’s mourning for the late President George H. W. Bush, the House has canceled all votes for this week, while the Senate will not convene until after the Bush funeral today.
The next votes in the House are scheduled for Monday morning, December 10, so the Farm Bill is expected to be passed sometime that week. While you can never predict what will happen on Capitol Hill, the stars look bright for imminent permanent legalization. Read more here.
Keep calm and continue to follow this space for further updates. In the meantime, if you haven’t had a chance to contact your Members of Congress to urge them to support the Farm Bill with hemp legalization, please use our easy online portal:
Here’s a report from Daniel Cameron of Frost Brown Todd, the Roundtable’s lead DC lobbyist and the former Legal Counsel to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“We will finish the farm bill before the end of the year,” according to Majority Leader McConnell after a meeting with President Trump yesterday to discuss lame-duck session priorities. This comes on the heels of him saying at an event in Kentucky last week that the hemp provisions “will be in there, I guarantee you that.”
Plus, there have been reassuring statements from the chairmen of the Senate and House Agriculture committees. Chairman Pat Roberts of the Senate is reported saying that he is hopeful that a deal will come together by Monday. While Chairman Conaway of the House is quoted as saying, “[t]here are a few things, but we’re darn close,” concerning progress on the bill.
The commentary from the chairmen and the Majority Leader are encouraging. Everyone appears to want to pass the bill before going home for the Holidays and the conclusion of the 115th Congress, and for good reason. Keep in mind that next year the makeup of the House membership will be different, with a Democrat majority and new chairs for the committees. This could complicate the farm bill process if it is not finalized this year.
To avoid complexity, the better outcome for the majority of the members in the House and Senate is to get it done by the end of December.
There are 12 days left on the legislative calendar, although that can be extended if necessary. Next week could be pivotal, given that Chairman Roberts has indicated a deal could be forthcoming on Monday.
As always, we will keep you posted with relevant information. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, keep the pressure on Congress: Let them know it’s high time to pass the 2018 Farm Bill with all of the hemp provisions of the Hemp Farming Act. Please use our portal at the link below.
Gov. Bruce Rauner on Saturday signed a bill legalizing industrial hemp, adding Illinois to a growing list of states that allow the growth of cannabis for non-drug purposes.
“Legalizing the farming of industrial hemp just makes good sense,” Rauner said in a statement. “Roughly 38 states — including our neighbors in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee — have allowed or are considering allowing cultivation of this crop for commercial, research or pilot programs. Our farmers should have this option as well.”
Illinois’ Industrial Hemp Act, which goes into effect immediately, allows for its use in paper, fabric, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food, according to the governor’s office.
The state Department of Agriculture will issue licenses to farmers who want to grow it, and regulators will establish rules for THC-level testing of industrial hemp crops.
Hemp, a non-psychoactive form of the cannabis plant that is distinct from marijuana, does not produce any high-like effects and is often used in clothing or food. It was banned nationwide in 1937 for its relation to the marijuana plant, but former President Barack Obama opened the door for states to legalize industrial hemp in 2015.
Hemp likes living in Indiana, a Purdue agronomist told a committee of legislators examining ways to turn the plant into a Hoosier industry.
But Statehouse leaders haven’t been so sure they want to live with hemp.
Recent efforts to expand hemp production into private business have been met with skepticism, although many Indiana farmers are hoping to turn the green leafy plant into commodities ranging from salad toppings to auto parts.
Currently, hemp can be grown only for research at a farm operated by Purdue University.
“The Purdue hemp research group feels Indiana can be a leader,” Ronald Turco, department head of agronomy at Purdue, said.
“Indiana is well positioned for growing hemp in climate soils that support the crop. Most importantly we have an existing industry that needs vibrancy.”
He addressed the first meeting of the Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. Seven of 14 members attended the Monday session in Lafayette.
The committee’s task is to determine how the state should regulate hemp production. The committee report is due by early November.
The non-psychoactive cannabis cousin of marijuana would finally become legal to grow in the United States under a bill overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.
The wide-ranging agriculture and food policy legislation known as the Farm Bill, passed by a vote of 86 – 11 on Thursday, contains provisions to legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.
The move, championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would also make hemp plants eligible for crop insurance.
“Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp,” McConnell said in a floor speech on Thursday. “But due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It’s left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreign-produced hemp.”
McConnell also took to the Senate floor on Tuesday and Wednesday to tout the bill’s hemp legalization provisions in separate speeches.
In April, the GOP leader introduced standalone legislation to legalize hemp, the Hemp Farming Act, the provisions of which were included in the larger Farm Bill when it was unveiled earlier this month.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved the bill by a vote of 20-1 two weeks ago.
During that committee markup, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), one of Congress’s most ardent opponents of marijuana law reform, threatened to pursue serious changes to the bill’s hemp provisions on the floor. Namely, he wanted to remove the legalization of derivatives of the cannabis plant, such as cannabidiol (CBD), which is used by many people for medical purposes. But Grassley never ended up filing a floor amendment, allowing hemp supporters to avoid a contentious debate and potentially devastating changes to the bill.