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Typically it’s every five years that Congress gets together to pass guidance on national agriculture, conservation and nutrition, which is referred to as the “Farm Bill”. From the early 2000’s, these bills have been put forth to try and ease the restrictions on hemp in the US with little to no success. Besides a small group of farmers in North Dakota in 2007, there had not been industrial hemp farming in the U.S. for 50 years. In 2014, there was a small win for industrial hemp in the Farm Bill of 2014 that opened up hemp production for research purposes. It was the Farm Bill in 2018 that legalized hemp in the U.S. and opened up a new era in industrial hemp production for farmers in the states. We’ll break down the highlights from the 1000 page document that brought the legalization of hemp after nearly 50 years as a Schedule I drug and 80 years since hemp’s contentious battle for legalization.
Hemp’s varied past in the U.S, dates back to the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which imposed a tax on all hemp, maijanana and cannabis. This move effectively ended the production of hemp and would later lead to its complete ban by the end of that same year. Industrial hemp then was called upon during WWII to assist with a critical supply shortage of imported textiles but was immediately banned after the war shortages were fulfilled. Over the years things would get even more complicated, and hemp would come to be considered a schedule I narcotics alongside LSD, heroin and ecstasy. Having such classification under The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) meant it was seen to have no possible medical use and thus no research would be likely. With some minor changes and court rulings that allowed for grey areas for industrial hemp importing, it wasn’t until the reclassification in 2014 that the Farm Bill of 2014 defined industrial hemp as a variety of Cannabis with no more than 0.3 % of THC. The Agriculture Act of 2014, as it’s more formally referred to, helped make it possible at the federal level for industrial hemp to be opened up to state cultivations for research purposes.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp was removed from the CSA’s definition of ‘marihuana’. Specifically, “The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was a proposed law to remove hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) from Schedule I controlled substances and making it an ordinary agricultural commodity. Its provisions were incorporated in the 2018 United States farm bill that became law on December 20, 2018.” Under the Farm Bill, hemp would move under the purview of the Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (AMA) to regulate the production, transportation and marketing of hemp crops. These regulatory functions are passed down to State and Tribal governments to set up programs for land record keeping of crop production, process for enforcing regulations, testing of THC content and disposal of crops that test hot for THC.
For our family hemp farm under Rocky Ford Hemp Company, we comply under all Colorado regulations and agricultural testing. Each year a small crew comes out to our fields and takes trimmings, which are then brought back to government run facilities for testing of our THC content. After certification of our fields we’re good to go through to harvest and combine into biomass.