Passage of 2018 Farm Bill clarifies CBD legal status and lets U.S. farmers grow hemp.
From Tobacco to Hemp
Today’s bill makes hemp a “commodity” crop for farmers who will now be able to obtain crop insurance, financing, loans, and other federal and state benefits to help them grow and sell it, says Miller.
That could help farmers like Brent Cornett in London, Ky.
For seven generations, Cornett and his family have farmed land at the foot of the Appalachian mountains in London, growing produce including tomatoes and corn. But the family always relied on tobacco as a major cash crop.
Cigarette smoking has dropped sharply in the U.S. and abroad, and the demand and value for tobacco took a nosedive, Cornett says. At the same time, U.S. farmers have suffered recently from the U.S. trade war with China, which imports U.S. agricultural products.
Four years ago, as part of a Kentucky’s state agricultural department pilot program, Cornett decided to try industrial hemp as a new crop. So far it’s been successful. Cornett says even an average hemp yield can earn similar profits as an excellent tobacco crop.
But until the Farm Bill passed, “one of the biggest risks is the lack of crop insurance,” Cornett saus, which protects against poor and unpredictable weather conditions. All other agricultural commodities—corn, soybeans, and tobacco—have federal crop insurance, he says.
With the passage of the bill, Cornett says he’s breathing a sigh of relief. “Where we are today is because of income from tobacco,” says Cornett. But “with the outlook on tobacco, I would be worried if we didn't have the prospects of the hemp to replace it with.”
CBD Still Faces FDA Scrutiny
While hemp production may eventually be a boon for U.S. farmers, CBD might still face legal hurdles, even after the Farm Bill is enacted, says Miller, the legal counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable
Since 2015, the FDA has cracked down on dozens of companies selling CBD products online for making unallowable health claims. The FDA noted in letters to the companies that CBD cannot be sold as a supplement because it was introduced into clinical trials as an investigative new drug. And, the FDA recently approved a prescription drug whose main ingredient is CBD, called Epidiolex.
When CR asked the FDA how it plans to regulate CBD under the new Farm Bill, agency representatives said it could not comment on pending legislation.
While regulators plot their next moves, retailers and manufacturers are gearing up.
Michael DeAngelis, a CVS spokesperson, says the drugstore is continuing to monitor how the legislation evolves, including federal and state, before the chain stocks CBD products.
Joseph Dowling, the CEO of CV Sciences, the manufacturer of PlusCBD Oil, says the bill’s passage should make way for more retail sales throughout the U.S. “We believe 2018 Farm Bill legislation, including the provisions pertaining to hemp and hemp-derived products will provide the legal framework for products like PlusCBD Oil to be placed onto store shelves,” he told CR.