Hemp and Cannabis Leaders Weigh In on the Farm Bill Headed to Trump's Desk

With hemp just one step away from legalization, industry leaders predict far-reaching effects that will shape the future of cannabis in the US.
Hemp and Cannabis Leaders Weigh In on the Farm Bill Headed to Trump's Desk
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Both the Senate and House of Representatives passed the 2018 Farm Bill this week, which includes provisions that would remove hemp from the Schedule 1 drug list, thereby making it legal for cultivation, processing, manufacturing and sale across the country. The last step to legal hemp is for President Trump to sign the 2018 Farm Bill. Once that happens, a new hemp industry can flourish in the United States, and as you can imagine, savvy entrepreneurs will have many opportunities to get involved. 

The Farm Bill will have a far-reaching impact, including possible effects to the marijuana industry. For some time, industry experts have posited that the legalization of hemp could be a critical step toward the future legalization of cannabis. Below, 12 hemp and cannabis executives give their insights about what the 2018 Farm Bill could mean for the future of both industries.

Frank Lane, President of CFN Media

“The Farm Bill will effectively declassify hemp-derived CBD as a controlled substance, which removes uncertainty for producers, distributors, and marketers of cannabidiol (CBD) throughout the U.S. As the market is predicted to grow to $22 billion, businesses that had been waiting for more clarity -- particularly those in the health and wellness space -- will be free and emboldened to launch their products.” 

Bethany Gomez, Director of Research for Brightfield Group

“This is a watershed moment for CBD in the United States. With hemp and all of its derivatives officially removed from the Controlled Substances Act, CBD moves from a legal gray area into the light. That legal gray area has kept the industry small and fragmented. This shift will allow for CBD to make its way to the shelves of larger scale, mainstream distribution channels and pave the way for the large mainstream consumer packaged goods companies in industries like drinks, beauty, pet, skin care and tobacco to develop CBD products and capitalize on this emerging industry. Even while operating in a legal gray area with minimal marketing budgets, limited distribution channels, and only small brands, CBD has catapulted to the national stage this year, growing by more than 80 percent to reach $590 million. Now that the Farm Bill has gone through, we expect the US market for CBD to hit $22 billion by 2022.”

Related: Hemp Legalization Clears House, Off to President for Final Approval

David Goldstein, CEO of Potbotics

"Opening the door for U.S.-based hemp is very exciting. Keeping production local allows for greater transparency, quality control and testing procedures as well as more clarity on minor cannabinoids that you simply don't get with imported hemp. I believe doctors and their patients looking to supplement their lives with cannabinoid-based therapy can find greater comfort and reliability in the medicines they're receiving."

Dylan Summers, Director of Government Affairs and Compliance for Lazarus Naturals

"This is great news for us as a company and an industry. The future is bright as hemp solidifies itself as a legitimate agricultural product at long last -- liberated from the restrictions of the Controlled Substances Act. Although competition will become more sophisticated and challenges will arise as the FDA navigates just how to regulate hemp products and hemp-derived cannabinoids, our endeavor will remain to pave the way for testing and quality standards throughout the industry. If we reflect and build upon the models we've had thus far in the Pacific Northwest, I believe Lazarus Naturals can help solidify the growth of a safe, supportive, and effective community for our health-conscious constituency, service members, veterans, and those in most need on long-term disability and of little means." 

Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome Grow

"When the Farm Bill passes in its current form, we expect hemp-based product sales (with and without CBD) to grow faster than marijuana-based products in the U.S. This has to do with less structural constraints associated with the marketing and distribution in the hemp sector. This is assuming there is no change to federal regulations regarding medical and recreational cannabis over the same time period. Additionally, this will likely allow U.S. hemp companies to list on senior U.S. stock exchanges, where previously, we have seen some hemp companies limiting their listing to Canadian exchanges." 

Cortney Smith, CEO of DaVinci Vaporizer

“A landmark decision that not only further unties the stigma of cannabis, but also creates legislation to protect US agricultural dominance. 

Jeffrey M. Zucker, Co-Founder and President of Green Lion Partners

“While how long it has taken is disappointing, it is exciting to see hemp back in the fold as a main cash crop opportunity for American farmers. Hemp is an environmentally friendly, sustainable resource that is incredibly versatile. In addition to this being a win for farmers, it is a boon for Americans as a whole to receive expanded access to hemp products."

Related: 8 Truly Unique Jobs in Cannabis

Alex Wasyl, CEO of Nexien Biopharma

“This is a huge step in a direction that is much needed. Updated legislation and regulations on hemp and its constituents, primarily CBD and other non-psychoactive, non-THC cannabinoids, will lead to many positive developments. Removing hemp, and potentially some of its phyto-cannabinoids themselves, from the Controlled Substance Act, will provide a clearer perspective to those currently on the sidelines of cannabinoid science. This will presumably hasten the timeline for the private sector and academic institutions to further contribute to developing valuable research. More research will enable targeted therapeutics for additional indications beyond existing cannabinoid pharmaceuticals to be developed and brought to market -- most importantly, to patients in need.”

Barry Grissom, SVP of Global Development & General Counsel for Electrum Partners, LLC

"With the passage of the Farm Bill, farmers will now have the option of growing hemp without fear of running afoul of the federal government. By treating hemp as just another commodity, it gives farmers an opportunity to be part of a growing economy as new markets develop for hemp to be used as paper, cloth, building materials, plastic and bio-fuel. This could be a real shot in the arm for struggling farm families.”

Sasha Kadley, CMO of Greenlane

“It is excellent to finally have definitive rules governing the sale of CBD products in the United States. There are huge demands for these products as many Americans find great benefit in their use. A clear, legal path to bring these products to market with all the appropriate checks and balances that ultimately result in consumer safety is a huge win for consumers, law abiding businesses, and the US economy.”

Related: What Will Happen if the U.S. Legalizes Pot Like Canada? A Mind-Boggling Economic Boon, That's What.

Derek Riedle, Publisher of Civilized 

"What’s happening with the Farm Bill is exciting. Hemp is incredibly versatile, and for so long it’s had a bad reputation because of the stigma around marijuana. For decades, the government hasn’t been able to distinguish between the two plants -- it’s like having a twin brother who breaks the rules but you get in trouble too. Now that the realities of cannabis are coming to light, we will finally be able to unleash the full potential of hemp here in the US.”

This is an extremely exciting time for the hemp industry, and with most experts predicting that Trump will sign the Farm Bill, businesses are already strategizing how to capitalize on it. The next 12 months will be interesting to watch as new players enter the industry and existing players grow exponentially. Only time will tell which brands will rise to the top.

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