The Future of Hemp and Cannabis in the Farm Bill

The future of hemp and cannabis remains uncertain, both in North Carolina and on the federal level. However, a recent article from MJBizDaily suggests that the upcoming renewal of the Farm Bill could create opportunities for the marijuana industry, including a potential path forward for federal marijuana reform.

The Farm Bill is a sprawling, multipart, $428 billion legislation that deals with nutrition and rural development, as well as what American farmers grow and how they grow it. The 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and triggered the boom in delta-8 THC and other intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids, expires in September.

Despite the continued federal prohibition of marijuana, there is a growing push among lobbyists and federal lawmakers to consider marijuana reform during Farm Bill discussions. U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, says the Farm Bill “absolutely poses a path forward” for federal marijuana reform, which could include the SAFE Banking Act, a bipartisan proposal to prohibit federal banking regulators from punishing financial institutions that do business with state-legal plant-touching marijuana businesses.

However, past attempts to package marijuana reform measures with broader bills have failed. For example, December efforts to include the SAFE Banking Act in both an omnibus spending bill and the annual defense spending bill were thwarted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus. McConnell remains adamantly opposed to tucking marijuana-related provisions into broader bills, Capitol Hill observers say.

Crafting the Farm Bill is a lengthy process that generally takes most of a year, so it will likely be summertime before substantive decisions are made. Nonetheless, initial discussions are already underway, and the Farm Bill could be a vehicle for cannabis regulations, such as definitions that clearly state what novel cannabinoids are allowed and to what concentrations.

For hemp producers and product makers, there is also a desire for clearer regulations governing intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids, including permission (or prohibition) on what compounds ambitious chemists are able to extract from hemp, and at what levels they can be included in products available on the marketplace. The ongoing headache for companies dealing in hemp-derived products is what types of labeling and marketing pitches will trigger a warning letter from the FDA.

While the future remains uncertain, it’s clear that the upcoming Farm Bill renewal could hold significant opportunities for the marijuana industry. We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and keep our customers informed of any developments. In the meantime, we remain committed to providing the highest quality hemp and cannabis products available.

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