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What is the 2018 Farm Bill?

What is the 2018 Farm Bill?

Table of Contents

We know what you are thinking. What is a company that sells cannabis doing writing an article about something as boring as some government bill?

Well, it's not all that crazy, because this legislation affects everyone in the United States, especially concerning our right to purchase, sell, and enjoy cannabis. If you're still wondering if, why, and how THC products are legal, this guide into the 2018 Farm Bill will give you a better understanding into cannabis' legal status in the United States. 

What is the 2018 Farm Bill?

judge gavel and cannabis buds

The Farm Bill is an extremely important piece of government legislation that affects all of the United States, not just farmers and the agricultural sector as the name of the bill suggests.

The Farm Bill is the primary agricultural and food policy tool used by the federal government and is renewed every 5 years as a comprehensive omnibus bill (a bill that combines multiple pieces of legislation into one bill) that deals with agriculture and any affairs under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Agriculture.

The three original goals of the Farm Bill were to keep food prices fair for both the farmers and consumers, and establish an adequate food supply, all while protecting and sustaining our country’s vital natural resources. The Bill was introduced as a direct response to both the economic and environmental crises caused by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.

Why is the Farm Bill Important?

hemp farm with closeup cannabis flower

When President Abraham Lincoln established the Department of Agriculture, he actually called it “The People’s Department” as it affects everyone's lives in so many ways, many ways they don’t even know. The Bill has never been about just the farms, but instead our food system as a whole, as its main focus is to provide the safest, most cost-effective, secure, and abundant food supply in the world.

The Farm Bill is also responsible for directing funding for much-needed trade development, investing in research and development to help better the future of the agricultural industry, and providing nutritional assistance to lower-income Americans.

Everyone has to eat, so everyone really does have a large stake in the Farmers Bill. Many states have gone on to pass similar regulations that are specifically tailored to their state. Texas passed HB 1325 in 2019 which accomplished on a state-level many of the things that the 2018 Farm Bill did on a federal level. 

Who Writes the Farm Bill?

The Farm Bill is a truly bipartisan piece of legislature, with political figures on both sides of the political spectrum coming together to draft a bill that benefits the United States as a whole.

Members of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry hold the primary responsibility of drafting these Farm Bills, and they are later ratified by the House of Representatives after a series of compromises between Republicans and Democrats.

The Farm Bill is then funded two possible ways: through mandatory (direct) funding directly stated through the bill or annual funding through the appropriations process.

Cannabis and the 2018 Farm Bill

farmer inspecting cannabis buds as they grow

Before we go into the 2018 Farm Bill and the changes it made to cannabis policy in the United States, we need to explain the difference between hemp and marijuana.

Hemp vs. Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are actually variants of the same plant- cannabis. However, as defined by the United States, hemp is cannabis with a Delta-9 THC concentration of 0.3 percent or less. Marijuana, also called "pot" or "weed," is cannabis with any concentration of Delta-9 THC higher than 0.3 percent. 

Why place limits on Delta-9 THC? Delta 9-THC is the compound in cannabis that is most commonly associated with (but not the only compound capable of producing) the plant's signature psychoactive effects

What did the 2018 Farm Bill Change?

The 2018 Farm Bill drastically changed the United States' hemp policy, where for decades it was under the same restrictions as marijuana. Cannabis (and by extension hemp) was made effectively illegal in 1937 under the Marihuana Tax Act and formally made illegal in 1970 under the Controlled Substance Act, an act that banned all forms of cannabis: hemp or marijuana. 

Under this latest Farm Bill, hemp is separated from marijuana and made federally legal, but with a few restrictions. Hemp and its derivatives (i.e., any cannabinoids, extracts, or parts of a hemp plant) are federally legal to produce, sell, and purchase if they abide by that same 0.3% Delta-9 THC concentration limit on a dry-weight basis

If a product contains hemp-derived Delta-9 THC at a concentration exceeding 0.3% of its dry weight, it is no longer compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill. This "dry-weight basis" bit means that hemp-derived Delta-9 THC can only be sold in edible form (gummies and baked goods) in order to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. This caveat doesn't actually limit the milligrams of Delta-9 THC allowed in a product- just the percentage of a product's dry-weight that can be Delta-9 THC.

A product's concentration of other cannabinoids, on the other hand, like Delta-8 THC or HHC, is not regulated (on a federal basis, at least- check your state laws). So, you can find hemp-derived Delta-8, THC-O, THCA, or HHC in a greater variety of form factors, like inhalables (vapes, flower buds, etc.). 

Summary

As a result of the 2018 Farm Bill, compliant distributors (like us) are authorized to sell hemp-derived products in a variety of forms, ranging from flower and capsules to edibles and gummies. Of course, this federal legal status is subject to state legislation- just like there are some states where marijuana is legal in certain instances but illegal on a federal level, hemp is legal on a federal level but illegal in certain states.

Importantly, this legislation also opened the door for more hemp research. As scientists nationwide learn more about this miracle plant, they are opening the doors for more hemp-based products and more applications for those products. Their research is becoming important to the medical industry as cannabis is quickly showing great promise as an alternative to dangerous medications, like opioids.

While the Farm Bill does legalize hemp, it does not actually create a system where people can grow the crop freely, like they can with the likes of corn or tomatoes. Any growers or sellers of the crop have to abide by a plethora of rules and regulations as it is still a highly regulated crop, whether it is for personal or industrial production. Don't worry- our company does the hard work of abiding by these rules.

There are a lot more details, rules, and caveats when it comes to the 2018 Farm Bill that we encourage you to read for yourself if you have any serious law questions. I mean come on, we aren’t lawyers and we for sure aren’t politicians! But we hope this article cleared up some confusion about this important piece of legislation and helped you to understand why you can legally buy THC gummies and vapes in the United States.

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