Hemp’s Journey to Redemption
This week Congress made history by voting YES to the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill passed by a wide margin in both the House (369-47) and the Senate (87-13). The bill only awaits President Trump’s signature before it becomes federal law. On the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, PrimeMyBody CEO, Paul Rogers says,
“It is further validation of the power of hemp. We’re thrilled that the federal government has taken this important step to remove many of the barriers that we have dealt with over the last two-plus years. There is still work to be done at the state level, as state governments try to understand and interpret this new wide-sweeping bill. Rest assured, we are aggressively involved at the state level to eventually remove all barriers that would keep us from freely sharing this life-changing oil with everyone in the United States. This is an incredibly important moment, and it’s truly a blessing for all of us at PrimeMyBody. We’re thankful for this early Christmas present.”
This massive piece of legislation includes the McConnell Amendment that legalizes industrial hemp and paves the way for state regulation of the crop. Not only is this incredible news for Affiliate businesses, but it also stabilizes the future of the hemp industry in America. As the legal language surrounding the hemp plant begins to decouple from its current federally illegal cousin, marijuana, the hemp industry, PMB, and especially each of its Affiliates have played a pivotal role in the reinstatement of hemp as one of the world’s most diversely beneficial crop and health staples.
Hemp’s History In The United States
The legal status and social understanding of hemp has changed drastically the past 80 years. Prior to the “War on Drugs” campaign, hemp was one of the world’s most versatile and commonly used products. It was used for textiles, paper, plastics, clothing, oil, and by farmers to promote healthy soil. Hemp can be grown almost anywhere, requires no pesticides, and provides essential nutrients for the soil in which it is planted. Since the early days of the fear-based crackdown on marijuana, hemp has—for the most part—been lucklessly linked to the legal fate of its sister plant. While critics of this practice allege that this legal marriage is due to pharmaceutical companies’ fear of the plant’s medicinal powers and large textile companies wary of market competition, most lawmakers stick to the story that the similar appearance of the plants would make it too hard for law enforcement to tell apart. [1, 2]
Hemp found its way back into mainstream production during World War II under the “Hemp for Victory” program which promoted the plant for the production of textiles. However, following the war efforts, production of hemp petered out. The last U.S. industrial hemp fields were planted in 1957 in Wisconsin. In the late 20th century hemp was scheduled alongside marijuana in the 1970’s Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act as a result of a zero tolerance for THC program. The modern-day understanding of the two plants as separate but related substances began to take root in a series of court cases and studies proving that the zero tolerance for THC program should not include hemp products.
Meanwhile, several states legalized the growth and use of industrial hemp even as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) continued its campaign to make all products containing hemp illegal in the U.S. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the direct criminalization of hemp in the court case Hemp Industries Association v. DEA (2001). However, the status of hemp’s legality in the U.S. continued until the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill—signed into law by President Barack Obama. As a result of this ambiguity, the United States lost out on the potential of the growing hemp market. Legislators recognized this trend, and that realization led to the groundbreaking passage of the latest version of the Farm Bill this week. [3, 4]
2018 Farm Bill Journey to Passage
The Farm Bill as it stands today began its journey in 2013 when Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), turned to hemp as a possible solution for Kentucky’s loss of tobacco profits. Eager to stop the flow of revenue going to American hemp imports, he began working on a bill that would allow farmers to grow the crop on U.S. soil. This led to the 2014 Farm Bill which narrowly opened the doors for farmers and hemp producers. Under the 2014 Farm Bill legislation, hemp could be grown so long as farmers were registered under state piloted programs or as a research facility with a university. However, farmers would still not receive the same benefits they would have had they grown another crop.
Additionally, the pilot programs placed farmers under high scrutiny. Many non-hemp friendly states, such as Texas and Alabama, failed to promote these programs at all, leaving hemp to appear as an illicit drug despite its marginal legal status. [5, 6]
Farmers and lawmakers realized that the state pilot provisions were not enough to reinstate hemp back into its rightful place in the American agricultural community. The 2014 Farm Bill had only been a stepping stone toward McConnell’s dream of industrial hemp legalization in America. With the inclusion of the McConnell Amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill, the Senate majority leader was able to create a comprehensive plan to remove any final roadblocks for the hemp farming industry. The McConnell Amendment is the now famous aspect of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalizes the growth of industrial hemp. However, as with most legislation, there is a lot to unpack in this small portion of the Farm Bill.
What’s In The 2018 Farm Bill
The 2018 Farm Bill includes loose requirements for each state’s Department of Agriculture to establish a means of regulating growth and production of industrial hemp. Most importantly for companies like PMB, Section 12619 of the bill removes hemp from the definition of marijuana, thereby removing hemp with a THC level of less than 0.3% from the prevue of the Controlled Substance Act and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
“The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” (Section 297A)
The derivatives and cannabinoids legalized in this definition include Hemp and CBD oil that maintain the required levels of THC. 
The 2018 Farm Bill corrects many longstanding misconceptions surrounding hemp and marijuana. Rather than wading through the implications of the 2014 Farm Bill in conjunction with social trends, law enforcement agencies will finally have a clear understanding of the plant’s legality. Farmers who supply companies like PMB with industrial hemp will finally be able to qualify for subsidies under the new Farm Bill. This incentivizes the cultivation of hemp products and will hopefully put pressure on states to comply with the requirements laid out in the 2018 Farm Bill to create a regulatory process for the production and distribution of hemp. 
It is important to note that as a federal law, the 2018 Farm Bill does not translate directly to state law. The bill will, however, require the following from states and tribes:
- The Department of Agriculture in each state or tribe must establish their own restrictions and requirements for hemp growth and the sale of the product so long as they do not overstep the general framework established by the bill.
- Hemp products are hereby directly under the prevue of the FDA. This agency has expressed a commitment to monitoring the use and distribution of CBD to protect against bad actors who contaminate the product or who do not produce it under the necessary guidelines.
- States are able to submit a plan to the United States Department of Agriculture to implement a permanent hemp growing program. This program is required to include regulatory processes such as testing of the product, inspections (not to exceed 1 per year) and general information gathering.
- Each state or tribe is required to develop their own means of addressing violations such as negligence to abide by set requirements.
- The information gathered must be submitted by the USDA Secretary to the appropriate law enforcement at the local and federal level.
- States/tribes cannot prohibit the transportation of hemp or hemp products across their territory.
- Persons convicted of drug felonies will not be allowed to grow hemp. 
The precedent established in the 2018 Farm Bill is groundbreaking for the hemp industry. However, there is still much work to be done to establish the legal cultivation and distribution of industrial hemp and its derivatives in all 50 states. Most states meet for their own legislative sessions within the first few months of the new year. Some states, such as Texas, have expressed commitment to immediately establishing a complementary system of regulation under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, other states might delay the process until 2020 since there is no specific time frame within the 2018 Farm Bill.
Furthermore, while the bill does legalize derivatives of industrial hemp such as CBD and hemp oil that maintain a less than 0.3% THC level, it falls silent regarding the production and sale of the finished product. Therefore, products such as PMB’s hemp oil fall directly under the authority of the FDA and are not expressly mentioned in the Farm Bill. While this fact leaves some ambiguity, it does not diminish the huge victory that the hemp industry received this week with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. [10, 11]
This law opens the doors for action at the state level. PMB is quickly moving to influence statewide legislative action that complies with the outlines of the McConnell Amendment. At the state level, this bill enables Affiliates to work with PMB in moving the hemp revolution forward. Internationally, the bill sets a trend for other nations to follow, legalizing the growth and production of hemp on a global level.
This precedent comes as PMB expands its business operations across the U.S. and worldwide, as we’re seeing with the launch of PMB Japan and PMB Taiwan. On the 2018 Farm Bill, as an aide for international operation expansions, Rogers says, ‘International markets look to the United States in many ways in regard to hemp laws. Most of the hemp laws in the world mirror the legislation of the United States. This new law will help open international doors for us.”
- Email Correspondence with Garrett Graff, Esq.