In 2018, Congress passed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill), amending the Farm Bill which was originally passed in 1933. The 2018 Farm Bill includes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which distinguishes hemp from other cannabis plants such as marijuana. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is no longer a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.
What is hemp?
Hemp is a variety of the plant Cannabis sativa that is low in the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, but they differ in concentrations of THC. The key difference between hemp and marijuana is the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in the product. THC is a naturally occurring chemical responsible for many of marijuana’s psychoactive effects. THC is the component of marijuana that creates the intoxicating effect. An industrial hemp product cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC.
Legally, THC levels determine whether the substance is considered an agricultural product or a regulated drug. Federal law defines hemp as any part of the plant with a THC concentration that does not exceed .3 percent on a dried weight basis. Anything above that is considered marijuana and is illegal in most States.
What are hemp’s potential uses?
Hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including rope, clothes, food, paper, textiles, plastics, insulation, supplements, oils, cosmetics, and biofuel.
What does current Law say about hemp?
The 2018 Farm Bill redefines hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the Controlled Substances Act, making it legal in all 50 States. California, Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming all permit licensed growers to produce industrial hemp for commercial purposes.
Insurance for hemp crops
Will farmers be able to buy hemp crop insurance?
In a July 2019 radio address, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) General Counsel Stephen Vaden indicated that there is not enough history to create a hemp crop insurance policy right now. However, farmers who decide to grow hemp will have one insurance option. Hemp will be covered under a pilot program “Whole Farm Revenue Protection” for the coming crop year in 2020. As a pilot under the law, the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) can assess the program and make changes as needed to maintain program integrity while providing a product useful for hemp producers until there is enough data to justify special policies just for hemp.
To learn more
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