Hemp Clears Legislative Hurdle and Is Poised to Be Legalized

Hemp was a major commodity product for centuries. Now, after decades of prohibition, it looks like it will be again.


Hemp, which for centuries was a lucrative commodity crops for American farmers, appears certain to become a legal crop for the first time since before World War II.

Eisenhut & Mayer | Getty Images

Senate Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, announced yesterday that a provision legalizing hemp cultivation has been formally incorporated into the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 -- commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp has been legally grown in the US on a small scale under provisions of the 2014 Farm that allowed states to create experimental programs. If fully legalized, domestic hemp is anticipated to become the main source of CBD for the booming market.


“For the first time in nearly a hundred years, commercial hemp production will no longer be federally prohibited in the United States,” said Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML. “This represents a significant and long overdue shift in US policy."

Related: The Next Big Thing in 'Green' Packaging Is Hemp Bioplastic

Hemp has been used throughout recorded history up until today as a source of fiber and has enjoyed booming popularity as a source of CBD for foods, beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. US farmers were shut out of the market prior to the 2014 legislation while manufacturers of various kinds have used imported hemp for a market that was estimated at $820 million last year for all products but is anticipated to boom to $22 billion a year by 2022 just for the CBD that can be extracted.

Strekal, of NORML, said once hemp legalized it is imperative the government establish regulations governing purity and basic consumer safety concerns.

Related: Julian Marley Thinks Cannabis Should Be Free

"Future regulatory efforts will still be required to address emerging consumer issues when it comes to the commercial sale and marketing of certain hemp-derived products, particularly so-called hemp-derived CBD extracts," he said. "For years, many of the producers of these products have navigated in a grey area of the law -- manufacturing products of variable and sometimes questionable quality and safety. Now it is time for lawmakers to craft simple benchmark safety and quality standards for hemp-derived CBD in order to increase consumer satisfaction and confidence as this nascent industry transitions into a legal marketplace.”

The hemp-specific provisions amend federal regulations to give states the role of regulating hemp and amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance.

Congress is expected to vote on the Farm Bill by the end of the month.

Peter Page

Written By

Entrepreneur Staff

Peter Page's journalism career began in the 1980s in the Emerald Triangle writing about the federally-funded Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. He now writes and edits for Green Entrepreneur.