The 2018 Farm Bill and CBD: Hemp Legality Across States

Farm growing green plants in front of a blue sky.

The 2018 Farm Bill, or Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, was a monumental moment in the history of hemp legality. Contrary to what some might think, though, this Act did not make growing cannabis legal.

In fact, like most things involving the law, it’s a lot more complicated than that. It can’t be reduced into simple terms; it’s surrounded by legal jargon, provisions, regulations, and so on. Furthermore, whether or not marijuana and hemp are “legal” varies by state, so it gets very complicated fast!

That’s why our team at EndoCoast has delved into the details and a little bit of hemp history to tell you what you need to know about the 2018 Farm Bill and how it relates to CBD.

Books on hemp legality in the United States sit on a shelf

A Mini-Lesson on Hemp Legality

First off, to understand the significance of the 2018 Farm Bill, we have to understand the historical events involving hemp that preceded this historic moment for CBD.

1937 Marijuana Tax Act

Before the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, hemp production had been a major part of America’s agriculture since colonial times (Fun fact: both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew cannabis!)

In the early 1900s, though, hemp popularity began to decline for a few reasons.

  • Firstly, machinery for other crops improved (like the cotton gin) and hemp was no longer the most lucrative fiber for textiles.
  • Secondly, steamships grew in popularity, and hemp was no longer used as much in shipbuilding.
  • Thirdly, many of the richest and most powerful men in America, including Andrew Mellon and the DuPont family, had a vested interest in the timber and synthetic fiber industries. These industries were direct competitors of hemp—you can put two and two together.

The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act did not make hemp illegal for all states; rather, it imposed heavy taxes on the sale of cannabis. Most importantly, though, it created a misperception of hemp that persisted until 2018. So though the Act was meant to target the psychoactive drug, it instead banned the hemp plant altogether, including non-psychoactive varieties.

1970 Controlled Substances Act

This was the finishing blow for commercial hemp production in the 20th-century United States. Under this 1970 Act, cannabis and all its derivatives, including THC, CBD, and hemp, was made entirely illegal for all purposes. This is considered a major part of the Nixon Administration’s highly controversial War on Drugs and affected hemp’s legality for decades to come.

This Act classified cannabis as a Schedule I drug, putting it under the same category as drugs such as heroin. This is the most highly restricted category of drugs in the United States, illegal for any purpose, including medicinal.

2014 Farm Bill (Agriculture Act of 2014)

Starting in 1933 following the Great Depression, Congress has made it a point to review and/or pass a new Farm Bill every 4-5 years. Farm Bills originally started as a way to assist struggling farmers following the Great Depression. In fact, up until 2014, these bills really had nothing to do with hemp legality.

That changed when the 2014 Farm Bill introduced the idea of hemp pilot programs. This allowed researchers to begin growing industrial, non-psychoactive, low-THC cannabis and was the first step that paved the way for hemp farms to revitalize across the United States.

hemp plants growing indoors on a yellow background

How The 2018 Farm Bill Drastically Changed Hemp Legality

As we noted above, Farm Bills encompass far more than just hemp regulation. In fact, the first draft of the 2018 Farm Bill failed 198-213 in the House of Representatives, not because of its involvement with hemp, but because of clauses having to do with immigration policy, energy policy, and proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Requirement (SNAP).

It took about six months for parties to reach a consensus, but, by late December, the removal of SNAP work requirements (amongst other changes) allowed the $847 billion Farm Bill to pass with strong bipartisan support (369-47).

It’s hard to understate just how monumental the changes were to hemp legality in the United States after the 2018 Farm Bill. In one fell swoop, an 80-year-old definition of marijuana was changed, and suddenly, hemp was a lucrative crop for farmers across the country.

Hemp Growing Restrictions Under the 2018 Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill does not simply make growing hemp legal with no oversight. In fact, the Farm Bill made hemp legality dependent on three major federal restrictions:

  1. Hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. Hemp that contains more than this amount is considered marijuana under federal law and has no legal protection (Sect. 10113).
  2. State governments have to share certain regulatory power with the USDA. In order to make licensing and regulating hemp legal in a particular state, state and federal powers have to collaborate to create a plan surrounding hemp cultivation. If a state refuses to create a plan, the USDA will construct a program for hemp producers in said state, similar to OSHA workplace safety plans and ACA insurance marketplaces.
  3. Hemp production has to meet certain requirements or face penalties. This includes cultivating without a license or producing hemp with a high THC content.

The regulation and enforcement of hemp (and, by extension, cannabis and CBD) under the Farm Bill varies widely by state. If you’re considering growing hemp, you should thoroughly research regulations in your state.

A jar of EndoCoast’s CBD capsules sits on a concrete bannister.

EndoCoast: The Best Choice for Lab-Tested, THC-Free CBD

At EndoCoast, we sell only the best CBD products that are legally derived from organically-grown hemp plants containing less than 0.3% THC. We extract our high-quality CBD oil in a state-of-the-art process that involves CO2, so no harsh chemical solvents make their way into the final product.

The 2018 Farm Bill allowed CBD to reach the popularity it has today, but it also brought our team the opportunity to help people around the US find balance in the craziness of everyday life. If you want to learn more about CBD, check out our extensive CBD Learning Center, or contact our team for help. No matter where you’re at, EndoCoast is here to help.