It has been nearly two years since the Agricultural Act of 2018 was passed into law, and this landmark piece of legislation has instigated a variety of changes within the world of CBD. Here are the 10 most important updates to the 2018 Farm Bill that you should know about:
1. The 2018 Farm Bill led to an unprecedented hemp boom
Practically overnight, thousands of hemp entrepreneurs and conventional farmers embraced the results of the 2018 Farm Bill by turning to the nation’s newest cash crop. Demand for CBD-rich hemp genetics went through the roof, and farmers across the country dumped the crops they intended to grow in 2019 in favor of CBD-rich hemp. As a result, hemp farming quadrupled in 2019, and at its peak, hemp biomass fetched over $40/pound.
2. Practically overnight, supply utterly overshadowed demand
As should have been expected, this massive, unprecedented investment in the US hemp industry was almost immediately followed by massive oversupply. By early 2020, the price of hemp biomass had fallen to $10/lb., significantly reducing the profitability of this crop. Some farmers decided to stick by their choices and continue growing hemp, but it’s clear that the hemp boom that began after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill is officially over.
3. The TSA cleared CBD products in response to the Farm Bill
The Farm Bill has had a wide variety of long-lasting impacts. In May of 2019, for instance, the United States Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) cleared certain CBD products for domestic flights. While you still can’t carry a CBD joint on the plane and start smoking it, CBD tinctures and topicals are now very likely to make it through security stashed away within your carry-on luggage.
4. States have fully legalized CBD
Certain states decided to take the 2018 Farm Bill and push the implications of this law even further. While some states, such as Indiana, had gone so far as to legalize CBD prior to the Farm Bill, it wasn’t until after December 2018 that Kansas, Florida, Texas, and a wide variety of other states decided to take the plunge by fully legitimizing CBD commerce within their borders.
5. The FDA heard from stakeholders following the Farm Bill’s passage
As a sign that this federal agency was taking the impact of the 2018 Farm Bill seriously, the FDA held a public hearing in May of 2019 to get an idea of where stakeholders stood on the CBD issue. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the FDA at that time, did not provide very much information regarding his agency’s stance on CBD. However, dozens of individuals had the chance to either advocate for the benefits of CBD or, in some cases, ignorantly conflate this cannabinoid with marijuana.
6. The FDA continues to crack down on non-compliant companies
Just because CBD-rich hemp products containing less than 0.3% THC are now (for all intents and purposes) legal in the United States doesn’t mean that the FDA is going to turn a blind eye toward abuses within the industry. This federal agency hasn’t made any moves to provide clear, coherent guidance regarding CBD, but FDA agents continue to send warning letters to companies that have been caught advertising their products using illegal verbiage. It’s clear that the FDA wants CBD companies to know that it’s watching the industry closely in preparation for upcoming regulation.
7. The FDA admits that taking CBD away would be a “fool’s errand”
CBD consumers with worries over confiscation of their favorite hemp products at the hands of the FDA should put their fears to rest. At a recent National Association of State Department of Agriculture (NASDA) meeting, the FDA’s new commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn admitted that it would be a “fool’s errand” to “say you can’t use [CBD] products.” While the FDA might get stricter on CBD producers in the coming years, the results of the 2018 Farm Bill have clearly demonstrated that CBD will remain an integral part of American life for decades to come.
8. Gender differences between hemp effects are being considered
The FDA continues to take a rigorous, science-based approach to the regulation of CBD. Recently, this federal agency announced that it will begin exploring the differences between how CBD affects women and men. The FDA will place particular focus on the use of CBD during pregnancy, and this federal research will primarily center around the effects of CBD on women. Why? Because, more often than not, CBD products are aimed at women, and women are more likely than men to use conventional CBD products like capsules, tinctures, and edibles.
9. The FDA will release new guidance for streamlining CBD product approvals
In September of 2020, the FDA announced that it will soon release definitive guidance regarding the approval process for CBD products. Currently, the steps required to gain FDA approval for CBD products are unclear, and the FDA wants to make approval as easy as possible once this agency starts regulating the CBD industry in earnest. The open comment period for this guidance lasts until November 23rd, at which point the FDA will produce a final version of its CBD approval process. This news comes on the heels of an FDA proposal on CBD enforcement that was submitted to the White House in July and a Congressional spending bill that allocated funds for developing CBD regulation policies.
10. The government’s position on CBD is unlikely to get clearer anytime soon
Even with all of these major developments that have followed the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, it seems like we aren’t much closer to FDA regulation and the full mainstreaming of the CBD industry. Industry experts are split on the matter of whether comprehensive CBD regulation will arrive in 2021 or 2022, and even once the FDA makes a major move on CBD, it will likely be some time until new enforcement measures significantly impact the industry. In the meantime, we have another Farm Bill to look forward to as 2020 winds to a close, and everyone’s eyes are on early 2021 as the industry anticipates the next major wave of changes set to disrupt the domestic hemp industry.