2018 Farm Bill opens door for U.S. hemp industries

On December 12, 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which was signed into law by President Trump the following week. Thanks in no small part to our very own president of the PNW HIA board and long-time Oregonian hemp champion, Courtney Moran, the bill included key text regarding the legalization of hemp and hemp products that won strong bi-partisan support. The 2018 Farm Bill …

  • … defines hemp as the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of the plant with a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent by dry weight. This definition is consistent with the definition of “industrial hemp” in the 2014 version bill, which created a limited means by which industrial hemp could be grown for research purposes.

  • ... removes hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, paving the way for the legal cultivation, possession, sale and distribution of hemp as an agricultural crop.

  • ... delegates to states and native tribes the broad authority to regulate and limit the production and sale of hemp and hemp products within their borders. States and native tribes cannot, however, limit the transportation or shipment of hemp and hemp products through their respective jurisdictions.

However, until the USDA establishes guidelines and a program under which states and tribes may grow hemp under the new law, which the department has said won’t be ready until the 2020 growing season, hemp may only continue to be grown and processed under existing state Industrial Hemp Research Pilot programs as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and state law.

We strongly urge our members to take extreme caution when engaging in interstate transportation of hemp or hemp products. While many states now explicitly define hemp as distinct from marijuana and also remove hemp from their state’s own list of controlled substances, many other states still consider all forms of cannabis a controlled substance whose possession is a felony offense. As many of you have likely already heard, shipments of hemp flower have been seized in certain states where hemp is still illegal, including Idaho and Oklahoma. Sadly, the driver of the shipment seized in Idaho is now facing criminal prosecution and a five-year minimum sentence, while the truck and cargo are being sold by the Idaho state police under civil forfeiture. We highly recommend that you research the laws and rules in any state that your business operates in or through which you wish to transport hemp.

Kris Plunkett