Yesterday a draft of the new $1.5 trillion Farm Bill, which includes notable revisions to the definition and regulation of hemp, worked its way through the House Committee on Agriculture.

This updated version, scheduled for a vote 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, leading to a surge in the market of intoxicating hemp-derived products. However, the new draft aims to establish clear distinctions to address these issues. It defines “hemp grown for cannabinoid extraction” as hemp grown for extracting cannabinoids intended for human or animal consumption, inhalation, or topical use. “Industrial hemp” is defined as hemp grown for non-cannabinoid uses, including fiber, grain, and seeds, as well as hemp grown for research purposes.

These changes address loopholes in the previous bill that allowed for the production and sale of intoxicating THC products derived from hemp. Such products have become widespread, raising concerns among lawmakers, cannabis companies, and consumer protection groups about the unregulated market posing risks to consumers.

In Missouri, the Intoxicating Cannabinoid Control Act attempted to regulate these products but failed to pass through the legislative process despite wide support from various stakeholders, including regulators and health professionals. While that measure ultimately fell short, the proposed changes in the Farm Bill would address many of these concerns.

With the current Farm Bill set to expire on September 30, a new bill must be voted on 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 distinguish between industrial hemp and hemp for cannabinoid extraction, setting the stage for intense negotiations.

On Thursday, the Committee approved the amendment after 11 hours of revisions and discussion. While there was no roll call vote on the individual amendment, Chairman Thompson grouped it with several amendments and the amendments were approved by a voice vote.

The amendment to the Farm Bill would effectively ban intoxicating hemp-derived and synthesized cannabinoid products, by changing the definition of legal hemp to exclude products with detectable amounts of THC or any synthesized THC isomers. This amendment aims to curb youth access and regulate the market, which has spiraled out of control with minimal regulation.

While supporters argue it is necessary for consumer safety and market stability, opponents warn it could devastate the hemp industry as it sits today.

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