Our friends over at the US Hemp Roundtable have been busy promoting the benefits of hemp for the United States while advocating for passage of legislation that will make hemp legal as an agricultural commodity while permanently removing it from regulations as a controlled substance. As part of that work, they send regular updates as to the progress of legislation in Congress. With that, they’ve delivered some good news, even though the 2018 Farm Bill is stalled out, likely until the lame duck session of Congress.
From their newsletter:
Although we still wait for passage of the 2018 Farm Bill – we are very hopeful that hemp will be permanently legalized by the end of the year – last week, the Congress further confirmed that the hemp pilot program regime, passed in the 2014 Farm Bill, remains in place.
On September 28, the president signed the second Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations “minibus” (H.R. 6157) into law. Primarily, the law funds several critical areas of government – Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. More important to the hemp industry, the law contains a continuing resolution through December 7, 2018, for any appropriations bills not enacted before October 1, 2018. That list of bills includes the FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Act and the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY 2018, both of which included protections for the hemp pilot program from illegitimate intrusion from law enforcement agencies. From the Agriculture bill:
“SEC. 729. None of the funds made available by this ACT or any other Act may be used—
(1) in contravention of section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. 5940); or
(2) to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp, or seeds of such plant, that is grown or cultivated in accordance with subsection section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, within or outside the State in which the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated.
(See pp. 98-99 of the full text .pdf)”
Accordingly, as discussed here, Congress made further clear that the hemp pilot program regime (Section 7606) remains good law, did not expire with some of the 2014 Farm Bill provisions on September 30, and that federal agencies cannot interfere with these state programs.
We expect a new FY 19 Agriculture Appropriations bill, with the same language, to pass before December 7, maintaining all of these protections until the 2018 Farm Bill is passed.