December 2018 is a truly historic month for Cannabis hemp.  Congress has passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 federal Farm Bill), which includes full federal hemp legalization, and the 45th President has signed it into law marking the end of hemp prohibition!

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, passed the U.S. Senate on December 11 with a vote of 87-13 and the U.S. House of Representatives on December 12 with a vote of 369-47, and was signed into law today, December 20th 2018. The new federal law takes effect on January 1, 2019.

AGHS worked pro-bono on the federal legislation, with our efforts led by Chief Legislative Strategist Courtney N. Moran, LL.M., which allowed us to play a key unencumbered role in the drafting and negotiation of the language.  Over the past two years working with the offices of Senator Ron Wyden and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, we drafted the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 the full language of which was eventually included in the 2018 federal Farm Bill. AGHS gives a special thank you to Erin Fauerbach and Malcolm McGeary in Senator Wyden’s office, Katelyn Bunning and Tiffany Ge in Senator McConnell’s office, Aubrey Vaughan in Senator Rand Paul’s office, and the amazing team in Senator Merkley’s office for their diligence and dedication to bring about this positive federal reform.

Key provisions of the federal bill include:

  • Hemp as an agricultural commodity subject to federal regulation by USDA.
  • Full removal of hemp, including derivates, extracts and cannabinoids of hemp, from the Controlled Substances Act definitions of ‘marihuana’ and ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’
  • State/Tribal Government primary regulatory authority through approval of a State/Tribal Plan
  • Access to federal research funding under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 and the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977
  • Access to federal crop insurance

Unwritten benefits provided for are access to banking and full plant organic certification.

AGHS is pleased to see an agreement was reached that includes the amendment we proposed providing for a revision to the ‘forever felony’ restriction.  The amended provision only applies to those convicted of a controlled substances felony within the past 10 years, and grandfathers in those with controlled substances felony convictions who are already participating in and operating under existing pilot programs before the date of enactment. While we would have liked to see the complete removal of the felony restriction, the adoption of this amendment is a significant compromise from the initial ‘forever felony’ ban. AGHS congratulates Senator Wyden’s office for continuing to protect the freedoms of the existing pilot program participants nation-wide.

What’s next?

While the new federal law should immediately alleviate some of the legal grey areas pilot program participants have faced, AGHS wants to make clear that federal legalization does not mean that folks can start growing hemp anywhere. Now legalized, hemp is a regulated agricultural commodity, subject to federal oversight by USDA. As such, USDA will engage in rulemaking to develop overall program regulations as well as the USDA Plan. Until USDA has finalized the program regulations and the USDA Plan and for up to one year thereafter program participants will still be operating under the agricultural pilot programs developed in their jurisdiction under the 2014 Farm Bill. Additionally, FDA maintains regulatory authority over products.

Please note that the legality for the transportation of agricultural pilot program hemp, including agricultural pilot program hemp derived-CBD, has been clarified in the judicial victory of KaB, LLC v USPS, MLB 18-39 (2018), which will aid in the transition from the pilot programs to full legalization.

Feel free to call AGHS at 888-388-HEMP(4367) to schedule a consultation on specifics of the new federal law providing for full federal hemp legalization, how this will impact your business, and to discuss the opportunity to engage AGHS to bring your state into compliance!