US Farm Bill, Which Would Legalize Hemp, Heads to Trump’s Desk

Published on December 12, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., left, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, reads from notes on the farm bill as he speaks with reporters following a closed door luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

This story has been updated.

The US House has easily passed the farm bill, a massive legislative package that reauthorizes agriculture programs and food aid. The legislation has already passed the Senate and is now headed to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

While the federal government aims to pass a new farm bill every year, the latest version is unique: It contains a provision that would legalize hemp and regulate it under the US Department of Agriculture, much like any other crop.

The bill also reauthorizes agriculture and conservation programs, funds trade programs, and expands support for struggling dairy farmers. Wednesday’s House vote was a decisive 369-47.

The legality of CBD, however, remains hazy.

The provision involving industrial hemp—defined by law as cannabis plants containing no more than 0.3% THC by weight—allows US farmers to grow, process, and sell the plant and its products. The provision was championed in part by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican whose home state of Kentucky has long history of hemp production that’s recently flourished under a federally approved pilot program in place since 2014.

If the bill becomes law, as it’s widely expected to, the change will almost certainly spur a flurry of activity around cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant, including low-THC hemp. Though hemp is commonly grown for its nutritious seeds and fibrous stalks, it’s also a key source of CBD—a fact that has made sparked greater commercial interest in the plant during recent years.

The legality of CBD, however, remains hazy. While products that contain CBD are now available in many mainstream stores and online, the US Drug Enforcement Administration continues to view CBD extracts as Schedule I controlled substances. While the US Food and Drug Administration in June granted approval to Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived CBD oil, the DEA responded by rescheduling only Epidiolex—not CBD itself.

The farm bill’s allowance for the processing of hemp will likely force greater clarity on the issue as more companies rush to capitalize on the booming CBD market and hemp’s newly legal status.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Shop highly rated stores near you

Showing you stores near
See all stores
Leafly Staff
Leafly Staff
Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.
View Leafly Staff's articles
Get good reads, local deals, and strain spotlights delivered right to your inbox.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to Leafly's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Stay In Touch

Receive updates on new products, special offers, and industry news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to Leafly's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Leafly mobile app
Get high for less.
Download the Leafly app.
Download Leafly: Marijuana Reviews on the App Store
Download Leafly Marijuana Reviews on Google Play

The material provided on Leafly is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Leafly is not engaged in rendering medical service or advice and the information provided is not a substitute for a professional medical opinion. If you have a medical problem, please contact a qualified health professional.

© 2024 Leafly, LLC
Leafly and the Leafly logo are registered trademarks of Leafly, LLC. All Rights Reserved.