The term “hemp” refers to the plant Cannabis sativa L. This plant has been the subject of much debate in the activist community, as many hope that the hemp policy reforms under the Farm Act will be a first step towards broader cannabis reform. The FDA has declared that certain ingredients in hemp, such as shelled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein and hemp seed oil, are safe for consumption and do not require additional approvals. Senator McConnell's efforts have been instrumental in including provisions on hemp in the legislation.
Though there are provisions that largely regulate hemp, and law enforcement agencies may be concerned that cannabis plants used to obtain marijuana may be mixed with hemp plants, this legislation makes hemp a popular crop. In states that do not design their own hemp regulatory program, the USDA will develop a regulatory program under which hemp growers must apply for licenses and comply with a program administered by the federal government. The Farm Bill legalizes hemp, but it does not create a system where people can grow it as freely as other crops such as tomatoes or basil. To ensure that hemp remains a stable agricultural product, more research and education should be done.
Federal law still prohibits cannabis use in some states, though some states have allowed medical or recreational use. States will still be able to enact laws related to industrial hemp, which could lead to a variety of laws across the country. The FDA is aware that products containing CBD are available in jurisdictions that have not enacted any legislation related to cannabis legalization. Despite the uncertainties, those involved in the cannabis industry and those linked solely to the hemp cultivation industry are celebrating the Farm Bill as a victory for business owners and consumers.
33 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes over the past 22 years, and 10 states have legalized cannabis for adult use in the past six years. Even CBD products produced by state-legal medical or adult cannabis programs are illegal products under federal law, both within states and across state lines. A state's plan to license and regulate hemp can only begin once it is approved by the USDA Secretary. It is true that section 12619 of the Farm Act removes hemp-derived products from their List I category under the Controlled Substances Act, but this legislation does not legalize CBD in general.