How Hemp & Marijuana Fared During the Midterm Elections
The hemp industry placed high hopes for legislative reform in the midterm elections that recently took place. In order to predict the direction hemp law is taking, businesses, farmers, and individuals look to voting measures proposed on statewide ballots, as well as key seats in the legislature and local government.
Hemp is often lumped together with laws pertaining to the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana. While industrial hemp and marijuana plants are very different, this conjoined categorization is an unfortunate result of government’s fear that the plants’ relation to one another will be too difficult to differentiate effectively. Nevertheless, states that move toward the use of medical or recreational marijuana often do so in conjuncture with legalizing the sale and growth of hemp and hemp related by-products. Below is a run-down of the state ballot measure results which focused on hemp and marijuana. 
Amendment X – Passed with 60% of the vote. This passage allows the state to fluctuate their definition of industrial hemp according to the language of the expected 2018 Farm Bill passage.
Difference This Makes for Hemp: The new law will hopefully have no impact on the hemp industry in Colorado other than allowing it to flourish. However, whatever changes Amendment X may bring will not be evident until the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. 
Michigan’s proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana passed with 56% of the vote. This is good news for the hemp industry because under Michigan state law there is no legal difference between hemp and marijuana plants. Therefore, CBD, hemp oil, and other hemp products are now legal along with the sale and use of marijuana.
Difference This Makes for Hemp: Hemp oil is legal in Michigan. It is not specified clearly if there is an age limit for the purchase of hemp oil (there is for the purchase of marijuana) but regardless, this is a monumental step forward. [3, 4]
Missouri legalized medical marijuana for the treatment of 10 listed medical conditions. There were two amendments (Amendment 2 and Amendment 3) and a state proposition (Proposition C) on the Missouri ballot that focused on the legalization of medical marijuana. All three passed, but each with different taxes levied on the plant. Because each ballot measure passed, the amendment with the highest number of votes overrides the state propositions. In light of this, Missourians chose Amendment 3, the proposal with the highest tax rate. The differences in the amendment versus the proposition might be argued in a state court, but as of now Amendment 3 wins.
Difference This Makes for Hemp: Unfortunately, Missouri law does not differentiate hemp oil and marijuana. Nevertheless, with Amendment 3’s passage, individuals may purchase limited amounts of CBD or hemp oil so long as they have a Missouri Hemp Extract Registration card. 
While the ballot initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in North Dakota failed, this is not necessarily bad news for hemp. North Dakota allows medical marijuana and has decriminalized the status of hemp products within the states. Industrial hemp may be grown and distributed within the state within the boundaries of the Agricultural Commissioners regulations.
Difference This Makes for Hemp: No difference. Farmers are still pushing for less restrictive means of producing and distributing industrial hemp. 
Proposition two passed in Utah legalizing the prescription and sale of medical marijuana through state-funded pharmacies. These are the same pharmacies that will legally sell CBD oil under a previous state-protected law.
Difference This Makes for Hemp: No difference since Utah has stated a commitment to not penalizing the possession or sale of hemp products within the state and draws a clear line between CBD and hemp oil. Both will be required to register with the Department of Agriculture as before. 
While the majority of the ballot initiatives passed in favor of the hemp/marijuana industry, the 2018 farm bill remains the most crucial piece of legislation to date. The midterm results gave a good indication that the bill will pass with an amendment to legalize industrial hemp at the federal level. Mitch McConnell maintained control of the Senate and Democrats won a majority in the House. This indicates that the House bill will most likely move towards the more bi-partisan Senate bill and pass in favor of hemp. Following midterms, the legislature will go into a “lame duck” session and pass the pending legislation through the conference committee. All said, the general trend of legislation appears to be positive for the hemp industry. [8, 9]
- “Midterm Live Results.” Vox, November 2018. https://www.vox.com/a/midterms-2018/ballot-initiatives
- “Colorado Amendment X, Redefining Industrial Hemp, Has Passed.” Colorado Public Radio, November 2018. https://www.cpr.org/news/story/colorado-amendment-x-industrial-hemp-definition-results
- “Michigan to Now Regulate CBD Oil as Marijuana.” USNews, November 2018. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/michigan/articles/2018-05-10/michigan-to-now-regulate-cbd-oil-as-marijuana
- “Michigan Proposal 1, Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2018).” Ballotpedia, November 2018. https://ballotpedia.org/Michigan_Proposal_1,_Marijuana_Legalization_Initiative_(2018)
- “Missouri Would Legalize Medical Marijuana if Voters OK any of These 3 Ballots.” The Kansas City Star, November 2018. https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/election/article221165435.html
- “State Industrial Hemp Statutes.” National Conference of State Legislatures, November 2018. http://www.ncsl.org/research/agriculture-and-rural-development/state-industrial-hemp-statutes.aspx#nd
- “13 Things Voters Should Know About Utah’s Medical Marijuana Initiative.” Deseret News, November 2018. https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900033184/13-things-voters-should-know-about-utahs-medical-marijuana-initiative.html
- “Recreational Marijuana Ballot Measure Results.” Time magazine, November 2018. http://time.com/5447176/recreational-marijuana-ballot-measures-results/
- “Election 2018: A Great Day for Hemp.” U.S. Hemp Roundtable, November 2018. https://hempsupporter.com/election-2018-a-great-day-for-hemp/