Our Take Action! campaign (May 28-June 10) has just taken off, and we are delighted to share this guest blog by Courtney Moran, a leading expert on industrial hemp law, with you! Learn all about the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, and what you can do to help grow support for this important bill.
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (S. 2667 and companion bill H.R. 5485), introduced on April 12, 2018 is making headway in Congress. As a result of our industry’s dedicated advocacy and education, our federal legislators are remembering our Deep Roots with hemp production and manufacturing throughout U.S. history. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) teamed up with long-time hemp supporter Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in the drafting of S. 2667. This bi-partisan collaboration is bringing on new support for hemp every day. There are currently 21 co-sponsors signed on to S. 2667, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). We already have almost a quarter of our federal Senators signed on in support and the more cosponsors we have the higher our chance is for success.
2667/H.R. 5485 are comprehensive pieces of legislation that provide for full federal legalization of hemp. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) definitions of both ‘marihuana’ and ‘tetrahydrocannabinol’, establishing hemp as an agricultural commodity. Clear removal of hemp from the CSA will eliminate current barriers that hemp farmers and processors face including access to water rights and banking. The definition provided for hemp in the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 is broad and clearly articulates that hemp includes all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L. with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids.
2667/H.R. 5485 provides the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture with general regulatory oversight, while giving states and tribes primary regulatory authority over production under approved State/Tribal Plans. State/Tribal Plans are required to include record keeping for 3 years of the legal description of land on which hemp is produced, procedures for using reliable testing methods to measure delta-9 THC concentration of hemp produced, an effective disposal procedure for non-compliant products, program enforcement protocol, and any other consistent practice, procedure or existing law enacted by a State/Tribe regulating hemp. The purpose of these Plans is to incentive states, such as Oregon, Kentucky and Colorado, that have taken time in developing thoughtful and thorough programs. The bill also provides eligibility for USDA research funding and federal crop insurance.
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 has more political support than previous iterations of the Act introduced in prior Congresses. However, we must remain practical about the challenges of moving a single-issue bill through Congress. While Senator McConnell has invoked Rule 14 bypassing unfavorable Senate committee jurisdiction and putting S. 2667 on the Senate Calendar (Calendar Number 380), this does not mean that the bill has been scheduled for a vote or hearing in the Senate, but does mean that it is “on the shelf” of bills that could be heard any time. As such, the goal is to include the language of the Hemp Farming Act into the upcoming Senate Agricultural Act (Farm Bill).
The Agricultural Act of 2014 (current Farm Bill) expires at the end of fiscal year 2018 (September 30, 2018). Congress is diligently negotiating the drafting of the next Agricultural Act. The Senate is working to draft a bi-partisan bill that can continue our national agricultural policy and programs forward. To move S. 2667 forward to re-legalize hemp, the goal is to include the bill language in the upcoming Senate Agricultural Act. Therefore, the eye is on the Senate and the support of Senator McConnell along with the 5 co-sponsors who serve on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry committee are incredibly important for our success.
Will Congress have an Agricultural Act passed before September 30, 2018? Unlikely, especially with the recent defeat of the House Agriculture and Nutrition Act (H.R. 2) and the upcoming election. If not, there will be a Farm Bill extension, as there was with the previous Farm Bill. Similarly, there may also be an Appropriations Act continuing resolution to continue the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 into 2019. These bills, bill extensions, and continuing resolutions are moving vehicles that can provide opportunities to continue our progress in bringing hemp freedom back to the U.S.
What can you do?
Continue to reach out to your Congressional Delegates and ensure they become cosponsors of S. 2667 and H.5485. If your Delegates serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, encourage them to not only become a cosponsor, but to support inclusion of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 language into the Senate Agricultural Act.
Click here to contact your Senators and Representatives.
Please also show your support by spreading the message by participating in Hemp History Week’s Take Action! Thunderclap will send our call to action through all participating social media accounts simultaneously on June 4 at 5pm PT. Click here to learn more.
To see activity on the campaign in real time, click here.
You can also join AGHS and Vote Hemp in Washington, D.C. on June 6 and 7 for Hemp Lobby Day and meet with your Senator and Representative in person! To join our efforts to re-legalize hemp in the U.S., sign-up here today.