The House of Representatives has released the draft text of the new $1.5 trillion Farm Bill, which includes significant revisions to the definition of hemp.

This updated version, set to be voted on later this year, introduces a bifurcated definition that differentiates between industrial hemp and hemp grown for cannabinoid extraction.

The 2018 Farm Bill broadly defined hemp, resulting in a surge of intoxicating hemp-derived products entering the market. The new draft, however, establishes clear distinctions:

“Hemp Grown for Cannabinoid Extraction: The term ‘hemp grown for cannabinoid extraction’ means any hemp grown for purposes of extracting cannabinoids intended for human or animal consumption, inhalation, or topical use.”

“Industrial Hemp: The term ‘industrial hemp’ means hemp— (A) grown for the use of the stalk of the plant, fiber produced from such a stalk, or any other non-cannabinoid derivative, mixture, preparation, or manufacture of such a stalk; (B) grown for the use of the whole grain, oil, cake, nut, hull, or any other non-cannabinoid compound, derivative, mixture, preparation, or manufacture of the seeds of such plant; (C) that is an immature hemp plant intended for human consumption; (D) that is a plant that does not enter the stream of commerce and is intended to support hemp research at an institution of higher education (as defined in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001)) or an independent research institute; or (E) grown for the use of a viable seed of the plant produced solely for the production or manufacture of any material described in subparagraphs (A) through (D).”

The revisions address the previous bill’s loophole, which allowed the production and sale of intoxicating THC products derived from hemp. These products, often found in gas stations, convenience stores, and smoke shops have sparked concern among lawmakers, cannabis companies, and consumer protection groups.

Unregulated intoxicating hemp products sold at a mall kiosk.

 

The 2018 Farm Bill inadvertently legalized the production and sale of products containing intoxicating THC derived from hemp.

This led to a new cannabis market creating legal intoxicating products with no regulation, causing a proliferation of such products nationwide. Critics have argued that this unregulated market poses risks to consumers, prompting calls for either a ban or tighter regulation.

In Missouri this year, the Intoxicating Cannabinoid Control Act attempted to regulate these products but was unable to make it through the legislative process. The bill did garner wide support from regulators, law enforcement, health professionals, and the legal marijuana industry.

What’s Next?

The current Farm Bill is set to expire on September 30, necessitating a vote on the new bill before this date. The House and Senate versions of the bill differ significantly, particularly in their approach to hemp regulation. The Senate version does not make the same distinctions between industrial hemp and hemp for cannabinoid extraction, setting the stage for intense negotiations.

The introduction of clearer regulations for the intoxicating hemp industry is a necessary step toward consumer safety and market stability. In Missouri, it is currently legal to sell intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoid products with no age restrictions, and no testing or packaging requirements.

The forthcoming debates and lobbying efforts will shape the final form of the Farm Bill.

The House’s draft text, totaling 942 pages, is available here.

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