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// October 31, 2023 //

what’s going on with the 2023 farm bill and THC products?






Cannabis consumption has long been mainstream across the United States, with people from all walks of life consuming it via edibles, beverages, oils, and flower for both recreational and health reasons. 

Annnnnd, like with most things, politics is only just catching up. Enter the United States Farm Bill. 

what’s the US farm bill?

A quick refresher:

The Farm Bill is a package of legislation that’s renewed every five years. It wields significant influence over agriculture and shapes how food is produced and farmer’s livelihoods. This ain’t our first rodeo — we’ve been renewing the Farm Bill since it was enacted in the 1930s as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. 

It encompasses diverse programs, including crop insurance, nutrition assistance, and sustainability initiatives. But in 70ish years, the cannabis plant has rarely, if ever, been part of the conversation about farm subsidies. 

Until 2018! What a time to be alive — Havana by Camila Cabello was all the rage, tiny sunglasses were all around, and Congress used the Farm Bill to legalize hemp production by removing it and derivatives of cannabis with extremely low concentrations of THC (no more than 0.3 percent) from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. Hooray!

issues with the 2018 farm bill 

While the inclusion of cannabis into the equation helped create the booming industry we all know and love, it left gaping legal loopholes behind. The FDA, in particular, has struggled to regulate and manage cannabis derivatives like CBD. In her 2019 testimony before the Senate, Amy Abernethy of the FDA said:

“The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill has led to the misperception that all products made from or containing hemp, including those made with CBD, are now legal to sell in interstate commerce. The result has been that storefronts and online retailers have flooded the market with these products, many with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims. FDA has seen CBD appear in a wide variety of products, including foods, dietary supplements, veterinary products, and cosmetics. As this new market emerges, we have seen substantial interest from industry, consumers, and Congress. However, in the midst of the excitement and innovation, the FDA’s role remains the same: to protect and promote the public health.”

In 2023, we have a chance to make things right in the next iteration of the bill (officially called the Agriculture Improvement Act). 

THC products and the farm bill

Some of the things advocates are lobbying for in the next iteration of the Farm Bill:

Clearly defining the FDA’s role in hemp and CBD regulation

Raising the limit on THC concentration for hemp crops from 0.3 percent to 1 percent to spare farmers who have gone marginally over from having to burn their crops 

Removing a 2018 Farm Bill statute that bars people from producing hemp if they were convicted of a felony for a controlled substance within the past 10 years 

More structure for commercial and industrial hemp production

what’s going on with the farm bill now?

The deadline for passing a new bill was September 30, 2023, when the 2018 version expired. But thanks to unrelated political drama unfolding around budget talks in the House of Representatives and the Senate, that deadline was missed. 

As it stands, the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill are currently being drafted by their respective agricultural committees, and initial drafts are nearly finalized. Then, the committees must debate, amend, and vote on their drafts before bringing them to the full chamber to be debated and amended. 

With the House of Representatives lacking a speaker for the second time in 2023, many functions of the legislative body (like voting on bills) were ground to a halt. That issue has (as of now) been rectified. There’s a secondary deadline — Dec 31, 2023. Let’s see what comes of it, shall we?

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