Updated: Mar 7, 2019
After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, a slew of articles and talks flew around declaring A LOT of things that range from being slightly off-base to completely incorrect. I was astonished by the amount of companies and advocates claiming to be federally legit, by their completely unequivocal belief that they've been freed from their legal chains, and their call to arms for all CBD enthusiasts to open businesses around the country. As much as I would love to shout, "We are finally free and an open market to everyone!" (which, trust me, I will do that when it does happen), that just is not the case whatsoever. There is much more to the story, and much more to come. So, if you don't want your buzz to be killed, please stop reading. I'm here to balance out the hype.
To start, I'll explain the event that launched all of this.
The 2018 Farm Bill
Most of you reading this know already, but for those who do not, the path to legalizing hemp in America was riddled in many clauses of the 2018 Farm Bill. Many Cannabis & Hemp News outlets, businesses, and people (including myself) have been following this since Senator Mitch McConnell put the motions in the bill early last year. Quite a bit of articles have touted that these changes to the farm bill will be 'Legalizing Hemp' and I'm not too surprised. If you looked at these specific clauses in the bill below, you'd feel the same way.
SEC. 297A. DEFINITIONS.
‘‘(1) HEMP.—The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
SEC. 12619. CONFORMING CHANGES TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES
(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 102(16) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(16)) is amended—
‘‘(B) The term ‘marihuana’ does not include—‘‘(i) hemp, as defined in section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946; or ‘‘(ii) the’’.
(b) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL.—Schedule I, as set forth in section 202(c) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812(c)), is amended in subsection (c)(17) by inserting after ‘‘Tetrahydrocannabinols’’ the following: ‘‘, except for tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp (as defined under section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946)’’.
In English, this means that the Federal Government has separated Hemp from Cannabis in the Controlled Substance Act, thus making it and anything made from it legal.
If you felt there was a, "Yes, but?" coming, you're spot on. These were not the only clauses referencing Hemp in the Farm Bill. In this 800 page manuscript, Hemp was mentioned in over 30 pages. Without giving you the joy of fingering through all of that minutia, here are the main points to know that reveal the grey area reality we are dealing with.
1- You Cannot Grow, Produce, or Sell Hemp-Based Products Everywhere in the US
Although the Farm Bill clearly states that;
SEC. 10114. INTERSTATE COMMERCE.
(b) TRANSPORTATION OF HEMP AND HEMP PRODUCTS.—No State or Indian Tribe shall prohibit the transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp products produced in accordance with subtitle G of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (as added by section 10113) through the State or the territory of the Indian Tribe, as applicable.
You cannot grow, produce, or sell hemp-based products unless the state you reside in approves. So, unless your state has made amendments to their constitution to allow legal activity, nothing has changed for you. Remember, Federal Laws are overarching rules for the states to follow, so states can either roll with the federal law provided or make stricter regulations (or, recently more lax regulations). If you want to know whether or not your state approves of commercial hemp activity, check out Project CBD, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, or your state departments.
On a separate note, I would still be cautious of transporting hemp or hemp-based products. There have been many reports showing that cops are still arresting and confiscating products on the road, claiming that they believe it is Cannabis. To be honest, most people can not tell the difference between a Hemp plant and Cannabis plant, especially since both give off roughly the same odor; and the police can still 'cop out' by saying they need to test the product for clarification... Even if you're let go, it still can ruin a week or so for you. Just be careful!
2- Edibles and Dietary Supplements Are Not Legal to Sell, Period.
In the farm bill, they stated in the clause below that nothing in this bill will affect what the FDA has jurisdiction over, which are food based products and dietary supplements.
Title X, Section 8
The section clarifies that nothing in this subtitle affects or modifies the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or authorities of the HHS Secretary and FDA Commissioner and clarifies that nothing in this title authorizes interference with the interstate commerce of hemp.
Once this bill was signed into law, the FDA Commissioner put out a statement the same day which stated;
Additionally, it’s unlawful under the FD&C Act to introduce food containing added CBD or THC into interstate commerce, or to market CBD or THC products as, or in, dietary supplements, regardless of whether the substances are hemp-derived.
Until the FDA has done a review to clarify whether they will approve of this, it remains Illegal to sell those types of products. This week the FDA stated that a review is supposed to happen in April, but now that the FDA Commissioner has resigned, no one is sure when or if the review will be. However, the FDA has not addressed topical and vaporizer products as of yet, so unless the agency come out with particular rules, we are in the clear.
Just Be Careful and Safe Out There
I know we love reading and sharing articles that say what we want it to say, but a lot of them are misguiding you or catching you with their "Click Bait" titles. The bill was a phenomenal first step on the journey of legalization and decriminalization, but we're not completely there yet. We all love shouting from the rooftops and waiving flags that we sell CBD, but the hype is also something that can backfire on us. A lot of states that still don't accept CBD products are enforcing their policies even harder now. Just be careful and find out if your area accepts commercial CBD prior to putting your CBD Flag on the side of the road. We are just now getting accepted into the community, lets not shove it in people's faces, especially when the dust has not cleared yet.