Potency and safety analysis of hemp-derived delta-9 products: The hemp vs. cannabis demarcation problem

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The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was a proposed law to remove hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) from Schedule I controlled substances and making it an ordinary agricultural commodity. Its provisions were incorporated in the 2018 United States farm bill that became law on December 20, 2018.

In late March 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would introduce legislation legalizing hemp production in his state, Kentucky, and nationally.[1][2][3] McConnell introduced the bill, S.2667, on the Senate floor on April 12, 2018, co-sponsored by Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.[4][5] McConnell announced that Representative James Comer of Kentucky would introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives.[6] The companion bill, H.R. 5485, was introduced on April 12, with Colorado Representative Jared Polis co-sponsoring.[7]

In addition to removing low-THC cannabis from regulation under the Controlled Substances Act, the 2018 act would avail hemp farmers of water rights and federal agricultural grants, and make the national banking system (in a gray area for the cannabis industry[a]) accessible to farmers and others involved; and allow for other benefits of production of a recognized crop such as marketing, agronomy research, and crop insurance.[2][8][9]


Hemp production in the United States essentially ceased in the 1950s due to market conditions and federal regulations.[10][11][12] Since the mid-1990s, there has been a resurgence of interest in the United States in producing industrial hemp.[13] Executive Order 12919 (1994) identified hemp as a strategic national product that should be stockpiled.[14][15]

The 2018 legislation was preceded by a failed Industrial Hemp Farming Act (109th Congress [House] and 114th Congress [Senate]) and a hemp- and CBD-related attempt to amend to the Controlled Substances Act (114th Congress);[16] and the Agricultural Act of 2014, which created a regulated, national agricultural hemp pilot program under which states could create their own pilot program regulations. There existed "ongoing tension between federal and state authorities over state hemp policies" due to non-cooperation of the DEA with state programs,[17] and lawsuits brought or threatened by farmers and states against the DEA.[18][19] The DEA and conflicting Federal court decisions regarding "low THC content [hemp] and marijuana of greater THC content"[20] left a perplexing environment for would-be producers with "general uncertainty about how federal authorities will respond to production in states where state laws allow cultivation", especially after the Justice Department's 2018 recission of the 2013 Cole Memorandum.[21] By 2018, groups calling for de-scheduling of hemp included the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the National Farmers Union and the National Conference of State Legislatures.[18]

In April, the Senate invoked Rule 14 and skipped over committees or debate, and placed the bill directly on its calendar.[22]

The 2018 farm bill was sent to conference committee in mid 2018. The Associated Press noted appointment of first-term Representative James Comer, a Republican Kentucky hemp supporter and the state's former agriculture commissioner, to the committee.[23] The compromise version of the farm bill reached by both houses of Congress in late November, 2018 – after McConnell put himself on the conference committee – includes the hemp provisions of the Hemp Farming Act.[24][25][26] Roll Call called passage of hemp legalization "an early plank of the Kentucky Republican [Mitch McConnell]'s 2020 re-election bid" soon after the $867 billion farm bill was passed by the Senate on December 11, 2018, signed by McConnell with a hemp pen.[27]

State reactions

In October, 2018, with House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill being reconciled, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture made plans to begin harmonizing state-level hemp THC testing in anticipation of passage of the Federal act.[28][29]

See also



  1. ^ McConnell announces hemp legislation with Ky. Ag. Commissioner, Lexington, Kentucky: WKYT-TV, March 26, 2018
  2. ^ a b Morgan Gstalter (March 26, 2018), "McConnell bill would legalize hemp as agricultural product", The Hill
  3. ^ Senator Mitch McConnell (March 26, 2018), Senator McConnell and Commissioner Quarles Announce Hemp Legislation (press release), United States Senate official website
  4. ^ Alicia Wallace (April 12, 2018), "Hemp Farming Act of 2018 introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell", The Cannabist, The Denver Post
  5. ^ S.2667, United States Senate official website
  6. ^ Mitch McConnell (April 12, 2018), Senators McConnell, Wyden, and Merkley join efforts to support hemp farmers, processors, and product manufacturers to capitalize on this growing industry (press release) – via United States Senate official website
  7. ^ H.R. 5485, U.S. Congress official website
  8. ^ Elizabeth Nolan Brown (April 13, 2018), "Reason roundup: Congress moves to legalize hemp", Reason blog, Reason Foundation
  9. ^ Alicia Wallace (April 12, 2018), "Hemp Farming Act of 2018 introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell", The Cannabist, The Denver Post
  10. ^ Johnson 2017, p. 7.
  11. ^ Shepherd 1999.
  12. ^ Hopkins 2015, pp. 193–208.
  13. ^ Johnson 2017, p. 14.
  14. ^ Executive Order 1219, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  15. ^ About Industrial Hemp (PDF), New Mexico Legislature, retrieved April 14, 2017
  16. ^ Johnson 2017, p. Summary.
  17. ^ Johnson 2017, p. 17.
  18. ^ a b Rick Barrett (February 15, 2018), "Farmers, Drug Enforcement Administration at odds over hemp", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  19. ^ Rachel Chason (April 4, 2017), "NC hemp commission considers joining lawsuit against DEA", The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
  20. ^ Johnson 2017, p. 19.
  21. ^ Johnson 2017, p. 21.
  22. ^ Senate fast-tracks bill legalizing hemp as agriculture product, The Hill, April 16, 2018
  23. ^ Comer Gains Seat on Farm Bill Conference Committee – A Kentucky congressman has been chosen to serve on the conference committee assigned to negotiate a final version of the federal farm bill., Associated Press, July 18, 2018 – via US News
  24. ^ Melissa Schiller (December 10, 2018), "Cannabis Industry Anxiously Awaits 2018 Farm Bill Vote", Cananbis Business Times, Mitch McConnell inserted language from his Hemp Farming Act of 2018 into the Farm Bill to legalize the cultivation and sale of [cannabis]
  25. ^ Teaganne Finn; Erik Wasson; Daniel Flatley (November 29, 2018), Lawmakers Reach Farm Bill Deal by Dumping GOP Food-Stamp Rules, Bloomberg, The bill includes a provision that would make hemp a legal agricultural commodity after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky championed the proposal, even joining the farm bill conference committee to ensure it would be incorporated. Among other changes to existing law, hemp will be removed from the federal list of controlled substances and hemp farmers will be able to apply for crop insurance.
  26. ^ Bruce SCHREINER (November 28, 2018), McConnell's year-end wish: Getting Congress to legalize hemp, Associated Press
  27. ^ Niels Lesniewski (December 11, 2018), "Mitch McConnell Touting Victory With Hemp Legalization on Farm Bill", Roll Call Issue is becoming an early plank of the Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election bid
  28. ^ Sophie Quinton (October 12, 2018), "On the brink of being legal, hemp still faces challenges", High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, Dodge City, Kansas: High Plains Journal
  29. ^ Skelton, George (June 3, 2019). "Why does California's public health department treat CBD like poison?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 3, 2019.


  • Shepherd, Christen D. (Winter 1999), "COMMENT & NOTE: Lethal Concentration of Power: How the D.E.A. Acts Improperly to Prohibit the Growth of Industrial Hemp", UMKC Law Review, 68 UMKC L. Rev. 239, [I]industrial hemp cannot be legally grown in the United States because the D.E.A. refuses to grant farmers and entrepreneurs the required permit, Number 225, which would allow the licensee to 'manufacture' a 'controlled substance.' The D.E.A. has never granted these permits. {{citation}}: Unknown parameter |agency= ignored (help)
  • Johnson, Renée (March 10, 2017), Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity (PDF), Congressional Research Service, CRS Report RL32725 – via Federation of American Scientists
  • Hopkins, James F. (2015), A History of the Hemp Industry in Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 9780813148618, OCLC 272437 (originally published 1951)

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity. Congressional Research Service.

Further reading

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