Hemp as an industry is poised to explode as legislators get ready to pass the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is a bill that bundles together a variety of legislation dealing with farming, agriculture, and food. This bill expires and is re-proposed, debated, updated, and passed every five years or so.
Our current version of the Farm Bill was passed in 2014, and the updated version could be voted on as early as next week. Updates in the 2018 Farm Bill include legislation regarding SNAP benefits, crop insurance, and the Conservation Reserve program, which gives incentive to farmers who remove environmentally sensitive land from production. Packaged along with all of this is the reclassification of hemp as an agricultural product.
Hemp is being re-categorized as a “regular agriculture crop.” (You read that right! Hemp is becoming recognized as “regular” rather than dangerous and scary!) This new categorization will federally legalize the full agricultural production of hemp in the United States. Currently, before the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and marijuana hold the same restrictive Schedule 1 substance classification. The removal of this status will allow farmers to grow hemp as a commercial product, not just for the research purposes granted by the 2014 Farm Bill.
Farmers and potential investors are especially excited, as the commercial hemp industry in the U.S. is estimated by some to break $20 billion by 2020.
Though the passing of this bill will surely cause a massive spike in the industry, hemp is already doing quite well with a roughly $800 million market, much of comes from the sale of CBD products. The 2018 Farm Bill is set to open the floodgates of the hemp industry, and is a potential good sign for cannabis’ Schedule 1 classification moving forward.
And it looks like it's happening this week.
About the author
Sam Aronson is a Graduate Student and Teaching Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He is currently pursuing his Master's in Professional Writing and Communication, and is focused on branding within the cannabis industry. Connect with him on LinkedIn!