SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) - The governor tweeted out Wednesday night saying she's supporting a bill that would expand the commercial and industrial use of hemp.
The bill's sponsor says it's going to bring an economic boom to the state.Lawmakers are looking at different ways to grow New Mexico's economy. The governor and a Democratic representative think hemp is the way to go.
"What this does is provide uniformity in our farmers...ability to send their product to manufacturers to help manufacture hemp products and their byproducts," Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, said.Rep. Derrick Lente says those products and byproducts include things like CBD oils, textiles, cosmetic products, food, and construction materials, just to name a few.
This bill is to make sure New Mexico is in compliance with the federal farm bill, which allows research and industrializes hemp.
Rep. Lente says the hemp bill makes it easier to get a growing license and to be a manufacturer.
"New Mexico is a prime spot to be growing hemp, but it allows, again, our folks in agriculture in rural New Mexico, tribes, everybody to take part in this really growing and booming economy that is now national and worldwide," Sen. Lente said.
Hemp is different from marijuana. Hemp cannot be smoked and you cannot get high from it. Hemp can be made into CBD oils and creams that can help with relieving pain.
Rep. Lente says there are about 2,000 acres of farmland already growing hemp and those farmers hope to produce about $40 million of hemp this year.This isn't the only hemp-related bill this session. Other bills call for more hemp research. If farmers want to grow hemp, they would pay the state about $800 a year to grow it outside and an additional fee for each acre.
The United States just legalized hemp.Pres. Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, better known as the 2018 Farm Bill, earlier today. This omnibus bill includes numerous programs and policy changes, not all of which are related to agriculture. For hemp supporters and industry professionals, it’s a cause for celebration. Hemp is now out of reach of the Drug Enforcement Administration and, with a few notable exceptions, closer to being treated like any other crop.“It’s been a long time coming and a lot of people have put a lot of effort in to get [legal hemp] to happen,” said Courtney Moran, founding principle of Earth Law, LLC, a firm that specializes in hemp law.Spearheaded this year by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the hemp legalization amendment was inspired by previous efforts from Rep. James Comer, and decades of advocacy work by hemp supporters nationwide. Legalizing hemp had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Legislators softened the most problematic clause in the amendment, which bans some people with felony drug convictions from participating in the hemp industry, during negotiations between the two chambers.One remaining uncertainty is CBD oil, the massively popular healing supplement made from hemp. Now out of reach of the DEA, negotiations with the Food & Drug Administration over the supplement’s legality could be complex.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the return of legal hemp in the U.S. could bring massive benefits to thebudding hemp industry, to everyday people, and to the planet.
“We’re feeling terrific but the battle is not over,” said Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, an industry advocacy organization. “We’ve got state laws that we need to deal with, we’ve got the FDA issues looming.”Legalizing hemp in the U.S. marks a major change for American agriculture itself. We expect to cover numerous aspects of this law in the coming days, but this article offers an overview of the major changes and what we can expect next from legal hemp in the United States.
INDUSTRIAL HEMP REMOVED FROM CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT
Hemp in all its forms — whether used as food, medicine, or textile — represents one of the first crops domesticated by humans. Then, the war on drugs brought about negative associations with psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) that spilled over onto hemp, marijuana’s close cousin. The result was decades of prohibition in the U.S., broken only for a brief period of hemp growing during World War II.
The 2018 Farm Bill completely removes hemp and anything made from hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
In 2014, Pres. Barack Obama signed a previous version of the Farm Bill which partially legalized hemp under state-based research programs. In 2017, 19 states grew a total of 25,713 acres of hemp in the U.S. However, laws vary greatly even among hemp growing states. Most hemp is still imported, while a gray cloud of legal uncertainty hung over the industry due to ongoing policies tying hemp to federal drug prohibition.Until now, the Drug Enforcement Administration argued that industrial hemp is essentially identical to psychoactive cannabis, and therefore a “Schedule I substance” under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances face the strictest penalties for use and are considered to have no benefit to humanity, despite the numerous benefits of all forms of cannabis.The 2018 Farm Bill completely removes hemp and anything made from hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.“They have no right or authorization to ever be involved in this again,” Miller told us.Advocates hope this will improve numerous policies that hurt the industry. Some vendors, especially those selling CBD oil, face legal threats. Hemp businesses routinely struggle to access banking, advertising, and other services. Ari Sherman, president of Evo Hemp, a leading vendor of U.S.-grown hemp foods, expressed his frustration with the status quo.“We’re the only product in the grocery store that can’t be advertised,” said Sherman.Attitudes are already changing. Even before being signed into law, the 2018 Farm Bill inspired the Alabama state attorney general to back off from plans to prosecute CBD stores.
LEGAL HEMP NOW UNDER USDA CONTROL
Regulation of hemp will now fall under the USDA, which will set national policies for the crop.The Farm Bill does allow states to set more restrictive regulations, including banning hemp growing. It also protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow, or not grow, hemp on their lands. However, neither tribes nor states can interfere with interstate commerce surrounding hemp.“People have been afraid that if they ship [hemp] from Colorado to Washington, what are they going to do in Idaho?” Miller said. Under the new law, “Idaho will still have to let it come through.”
The 2018 Farm Bill protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow hemp, and prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products.
The definition of industrial hemp will remain unchanged from the 2014 Farm Bill. Only cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC will qualify as legal industrial hemp. THC, the main cannabinoid in psychoactive cannabis which makes people “feel high,” occurs in all forms of the plant but in very low levels in industrial hemp. Under current regulations, farmers must destroy destroy the entire harvest if their hemp tests at 0.4 percent or higher.“As a Kentucky hemp farmer and processor, it is very important to me this law has passed; Kentucky farmers, and farmers across the entire U.S. will now have the ability to grow this versatile crop.” said Brian Furnish, Director of Farming & Global Production at Ananda Hemp in Cynthiana, Kentucky, Sen. McConnell’s home state.Though the Farm Bill is now law, legalizing hemp won’t happen overnight. Until the Department of Agriculture finalizes its hemp policies, the rules of the 2014 Farm Bill will continue to officially apply.“We hope [the USDA] look to the guidance of well-developed pilot programs, in particular Oregon and also Colorado and Kentucky,” Moran said. “Look to their guidance and [don’t] make it overly restrictive as the goal is to really open up access to farmers throughout the United States.”
LEGAL HEMP INDUSTRY STILL FACES ‘TRAGICALLY UNFAIR’ FELONY BAN
The most controversial part of the hemp legalization amendment to the Farm Bill was a clause which banned people with felony drug convictions from participating in the industry.The legal hemp amendment originally passed by the Senate banned anyone with a felony drug conviction from participating in the hemp industry. People like Veronica Carpio, who has been a Colorado hemp grower since 2014 but also has a past psychoactive cannabis conviction, could have been forced out of an industry they helped to create.Ministry of Hemp was one of the first media outlets to report on this hemp felony ban. Carpio told us that attention from reporters, and subsequent pressure from parts of the hemp industry, resulted in an important change to the new law. Moran told us Sen. Ron Wyden was a strong advocate for a compromise. But the felony ban remains in a modified form.“I think it’s tragically unfair,” Carpio told us. “I’m fairly devastated over it actually.”Under the compromise, now incorporated into the final law, the felony ban exempts anyone already growing under a 2014 Farm Bill-compliant state hemp program. Additionally, anyone whose conviction took place more than 10 years ago may grow hemp.
“Why should I, and others that were under the 2014 Farm Bill, why are we getting exceptions?”
Carpio is grateful that her business is not likely to face any interruption, but she still condemned what she sees as an unfair restriction on hemp, which makes it unlike any other crop. She’s also concerned that the ban will disproportionately affect black people, and other marginalized groups, who tend to be arrested for drug crimes more often.“Why should I, and others that were under the 2014 Farm Bill, why are we getting exceptions?” she asked.“I know I should be happier about [the compromise] but I’m not, it should have been removed completely.”In addition, she suggested this clause and others in the bill could create unnecessary government surveillance and monitoring of hemp growers.
Hemp supporters argued that CBD products were protected by the 2014 Farm Bill and other legal precedents, but the DEA often disagreed. Though 2018 Farm Bill explicitly removes any product made from legal hemp from DEA oversight, the FDA regulates anything intended for human consumption. That includes CBD oil.Moran noted that under the Farm Bill, “the FDA still has the complete authority that they do under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.”So far, the FDA has limited itself to targeting CBD vendors that make illegal health claims about their products. The FDA classifies everyday CBD products as nutritional supplements and bans vendors from claiming hemp extract treats any health conditions.
WILL THE FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION WEIGH IN ON CBD OIL?
“The next step for the hemp CBD industry is that we need to self regulate CBD products to ensure they are safe, well tested, and properly labeled,” said Joseph Dowling, CEO of CV Sciences, maker of PlusCBD Oil, in a statement sent by email.Many industry experts believe the FDA will face pressure to develop regulations around CBD products with the passage of the Farm Bill. Another factor is the recent approval of Epidiolex, a prescription epilepsy drug made from CBD derived from psychoactive cannabis. The approval of Epidiolex marks the first time the FDA officially recognized the medical value of cannabis. Still, some worry that it could lead to a crackdown on access to over-the-counter CBD supplements.This is a complex and developing aspect of the 2018 Farm Bill and hemp legalization that we intend to cover in more depth in the future. Until then, CBD consumers should rest assured that their favorite supplement is likely to remain available. With CBD generating millions in profits and benefitting thousands of consumers, the FDA faces immense financial and popular pressure to keep this supplement available.“The wind is at our back,” Miller said. “The public loves hemp-derived CBD so it’s only a matter of time.”
LEGAL HEMP IS A ‘WIN’ FOR PLANET EARTH
While CBD helps people feel better, and hemp can generate immense profits for both farmers and hemp companies, the benefits of legal hemp go deeper. Hemp can heal the soil, requires almost no pesticides and only moderate watering compared to other crops. Hemp fabric is a more sustainable alternative to cotton, and the woody core of industrial hemp plants can be made into hempcrete, a sustainable building material with numerous remarkable qualities.
While Miller cautioned that hemp is “no panacea,” he noted that Europe is already making increasing use of hemp plastic.“It’s biodegradeable and renewable,” he said. “Just imagine if that can be replicated on a mass scale what that could mean for the environment.”Moran agreed:“[The environment] is the most important aspect of all of this. … The reason I have been an advocate for the past 10 years and why I have focused my entire education and career on industrial hemp legalization is because this plant can do amazing things for the earth, for the soil.”Sherman suggested this could be a moment with international significance. Evo Hemp’s attempts to encourage hemp farming in foreign countries often faced resistance from officials afraid of U.S. government retaliation. That could be on the verge of changing.“All of these countries around the world are going to open up their hemp policies,” he predicted.https://ministryofhemp.com/blog/legal-hemp/
Congress Passed the 2018 Farm Bill, Legalizing Hemp. What’s Next for Cannabis Businesses?
Industry stakeholders anticipate increased investment into the industry, as well as massive growth in hemp research, cultivation and sales.
Congress federally legalized hemp with the Dec. 12 passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, opening a market that Brightfield Group estimates will reach $22 billion by 2022.The $867 billion agriculture law cleared the Senate Dec. 11 with a 87-13 vote before gaining approval in the House Dec. 12 with a 369-47 vote. The bill has been sent to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.The Farm Bill removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and allows farmers to pursue federal hemp cultivation permits, while individual states can regulate the industry within their borders as they see fit. Already, 40 states have established hemp cultivation “pilot programs” for industrial and commercial purposes, although the plant has been strictly regulated.“This is absolutely world history! What the Congress did … is going to change the future for this industry and the world,” said Dr. Bomi Joseph, founder of Peak Health Center.Hemp cultivation became illegal in the U.S. in 1937, under provisions in the Marihuana Tax Act, which was drafted by prohibitionist Harry Anslinger. In the intervening eight decades, American culture has steadily warmed to the idea of reviving the agricultural commodity and its many commercial uses.“With the Farm Bill of 2018 …, the restrictions around growing industrial hemp could be lifted by the end of the year,” said Ari Sherman, president of Evo Hemp. “This bill will also help clarify that resin products derived from hemp, like cannabinoids, will be legal on a federal level. Many people will benefit from this bill, including farmers, manufactures, retailers and consumers. Small family farmers will be able to make a sufficient amount of income off a small amount of land. This bill will open up advertising opportunities for hemp product manufactures. Retailers will be given more freedom in the variety of hemp products that they carry. Last, consumers will be given access to all domestically grown hemp-based products.”“It is excellent to finally have definitive rules governing the sale of CBD products in the United States,” added Sasha Kadey, CMO of Greenlane. “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 U.S. Economy.”The legislation will supersede the recently expired 2014 Farm Bill, which had granted states the ability to create those hemp production pilot programs. The manufacture and sale of hemp-derived CBD, however, was strictly regulated and sometimes left out of states’ medical cannabis market frameworks.Now, with hemp set to be treated as an agricultural product, the U.S. FDA or state departments of agriculture will provide oversight of the plant’s cultivation. Further along the supply chain, industry observers eagerly anticipate guidance on hemp-derived CBD.“While the Farm Bill presents exciting opportunities for U.S. agriculture and the hemp industry, it is still unclear what the final status of CBD will be,” said Jordan Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Zodaka, a cannabis payment platform. “[I am] curious to see how the progress of CBD-specific legislation is affected by this milestone.”In July, the California Department of Public Health issued a state policy prohibiting hemp-derived CBD in food products, which aligned with the FDA’s stance. Policies are now likely to shift, as federal and state regulators embrace hemp legalization—and cannabis companies will have new opportunities, as well.Hemp is primarily a cheap source of CBD, which as become a hot commodity, and the passage of the Farm Bill ensures that people who farm and create products with CBD are protected from prosecution, Joseph said. “A lot more investment is going to pour in for new food products based on hemp.”U.S. hemp companies may now be able to list on U.S. stock exchanges, as well, added Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome Grow. Previously, they have been limited to Canadian exchanges when looking to go public.“It’s a pivotal moment we've been preparing for, and a hallmark in the history of hemp,” said Matt Oscamou, co-founder of Weller, a manufacturer of CBD-infused snacks. “CBD awareness has picked up over the last several months, and the bill answers some of the questions that retailers and consumers have been continuously asking. Ultimately, this legislation gives the market a unique opportunity to grow by decriminalizing hemp and hemp CBD, thus removing a road block to institutional capital.”The federal legalization of hemp will also undoubtedly attract investors and businesses from outside the U.S.“We’re hoping that this bill can help us expand our supply chain by looking for hemp farmers in the U.S. for our CBD products to supplement our current hemp imports from Europe,” said Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc. “In the next few years, hemp will once again become the valued commodity it once was just a few generations ago. As a company, we’re utilizing hemp as a source for CBD, but we look forward to the U.S. taking advantage of hemp’s many other industrial uses, such as a source of building and construction materials, material for bio-composite purposes, clean biofuels, as well as a viable source of nutrition.”More retailers will likely start integrating CBD products into their stores, as well, making them available for consumers who have been eager to try CBD, but who may not have been educated on the products or able to find a trusted brand.“The Farm Bill is just the first step, but it's undoubtedly a big one,” Oscamou added. “We're looking forward to leading the way with true innovation in this emerging category, utilizing FDA-compliant processes to ensure consumers know exactly what they're getting every time their daily stresses rear up.”Hemp legalization will also lend support to what is already becoming a multi-billion-dollar American agriculture industry, according to Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc., a U.S.-based hemp cultivator.“As an example, we project that a massive back-to-the land movement will be in full force by mid-summer of 2019 … because the back-to-the land population will now have a solid economic basis in industrial hemp to rely on,” Perlowin said. “This will be an incredible boon for the American small family farm. Our strategy has been to partner with farmers across the country in states where hemp cultivation and manufacturing is legal, to provide them with the infrastructure needed to make a profit off this incredible crop.”“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,” added Jeffrey M. Zucker, co-founder and president of Green Lion Partners. “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.”And cultivating hemp can also help eliminate contaminants in the soil, Joseph added.“Hemp is very useful for ‘phyto-remediation,’” he said. “Hemp has the highest ability to ‘bioaccumulate’ and degrade harmful contaminants in soil, water and air. Toxic heavy metals and organic pollutants are great targets for hemp phyto-remediation … Hemp will absorb [pollutants] voraciously, neutralize them and break them down into harmless components. This is a very exciting environmental benefit to hemp cultivation that is hardly mentioned.”Hemp research will likely also ramp up as restrictions on the plant are loosened.“The health and wellness industries are in for a major overhaul with the massive research and development and exploration into CBD, CBG, CBN and 113 other cannabinoids, as well as some 300 terpenes found in the industrial hemp plant,” Perlowin said.“Hemp is incredibly versatile, and for so long it’s had a bad reputation because of the stigma around marijuana,” added Derek Riedle, publisher of Civilized. “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 U.S.”And with a federally legal industrial hemp industry across the U.S., the passage of the Farm Bill could also represent a step toward the federal legalization of marijuana, according to Dan Anglin, DEO of CannAmerica.“This news is substantial for all of America’s hemp and CBD companies, and as a veteran of the more complicated THC-marijuana industry, I’m encouraged about what this could mean for the federal future of marijuana and cannabis products in the U.S.A."