By now, most people know that hemp became legal in America after the 2018 Farm Bill was signed on December 20th, 2018. However, there’s a lot more to the new law and legal hemp itself than meets the eye. Let’s take a look at hemp, its benefits, and the details of its current legal status under the 2018 Farm Bill.
What Is Hemp?
For those of you that are green (no pun intended!), hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Hemp gets confused frequently with marijuana. The biggest difference is that hemp has a very low THC (0.3% or less) while marijuana contains concentrations between 15%-40%, a much more potent dose that lets users have that “high” feeling.
What Makes Hemp Stand Out?
Hemp is used for fuel, fabrics, oil, plastics, animals feed, building materials, paper, and more. You can even eat it, although the taste is unpleasant. In fact, there are over 25,000 known uses for hemp!
Hemp is a fast growing, low maintenance crop. The plant requires less water, fertilizer, and herbicides than many common crops, making it a great option for farmers looking to save a little money or reduce their carbon footprint.
Hemp is green in more than one way. Hemp takes in more CO2 as it grows and naturally rids the soil of toxins, making it an excellent crop for bioremediation. After the harvest, the remains break down into rich nutrients for the soil.
What is the current ruling?
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (whose provisions were included in the 2018 Farm Bill) let hemp farmers apply for federal agricultural grants, own crop insurance for the plant, and have access to the national banking system (an issue for marijuana in states even where it is legal). The 2018 Farm Bill removed a lot of hoops that hemp growers used to need to jump through. Removing the gray areas surrounding the plant and allowing hemp farmers access to the same tools as other farmers will make it easier and more profitable for people to grow hemp.
Just because hemp is legal doesn’t mean everything is cut and dried surrounding the plant. While the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and products made from hemp from the Schedule 1 Drug List, the FDA still has regulatory authority over all CDB in food and drugs. Testing protocols surrounding how much THC and CBD is in each plant is still up for debate, as different testing methods can sometimes produce different results.
A recent report from the Brightfield Group expects that the United States CBD market will be worth $22 billion by 2022. If you’re considering branching out into new crops, hemp might be a great option for you.
About the Author: Laura Barker is a freelance writer based out of California for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has been with RLI since October 2017.