On December 20, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, making it a historic day for hemp in the United States. After more than 80 years of prohibition, U.S. farmers are finally allowed to grow hemp legally. Section 10113 of the bill removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, extracting it from Schedule I status alongside its intoxicating cousin marijuana.
In a victory for farmers, the bill removes banking, water and other regulatory roadblocks from hemp farming, plus authorizes crop insurance. It also allows hemp farming in communities left out of the 2014 Farm Bill, including U.S. territories, tribal lands and reservations. Now, hemp is clearly defined as “whole plant,” including extracts, and as cannabis containing less than 0.3 percent THC.
Despite hemp’s previous illegality, the U.S. industry is booming. The Hemp Business Journal estimates that in 2018, the total retail value of hemp food, supplements and body care products in the U.S. reached $553 million.
Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, a national advocacy organization dedicated to a free market for industrial hemp, thinks hemp farming will be only one trending item in 2019. Even without the protections of the 2018 Farm Bill, the acreage of