What is the Farm Bill?
The 2014 Farm Bill or Agricultural Act of 2014 provides agricultural and food policies in the United States over a five year span. Since the first Farm Bill in 1933 called the Agricultural Adjustment Act, Farm Bill’s have allocated, (re)authorized, repealed, or amended policies under the auspices of the US Department of Agriculture. Areas of adjustment can be highly controversial and often deal with trade, food policies and environmental concerns. The 2014 Farm Bill was no different, in part because of Section 7606.
What is Section 7606?
Section 7606 opened hemp production in the US for research purposes and pilot scales. Prior to this Farm Bill, hemp had not legally grown in the US since the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, but in reality, decades prior, due to implications under the Marihuana Tax Act.
Section 7606 specifically states:
(a) In general Notwithstanding the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), chapter 81 of title 41, or any other Federal law, an institution of higher education (as defined in section 1001 of title 20) or a State department of agriculture may grow or cultivate industrial hemp if—
(2) the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the State in which such institution of higher education or State department of agriculture is located and such research occurs.
(b) Definitions In this section:
(1) Agricultural pilot program The term “agricultural pilot program” means a pilot program to study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp—
(B) in a manner that—
(2) Industrial hemp
The term “industrial hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
(3) State department of agriculture
The term “State department of agriculture” means the agency, commission, or department of a State government responsible for agriculture within the State.
Is hemp legal?
So what does this mean for hemp? Is hemp legal? Well finished hemp products derived from the stalk and seed have never been illegal. Only the floral material, the resin therein and the viable seeds have been regulated by the Controlled Substances Act.
Sec 7606 specifies any part of the plant. This means that hemp grown, processed or marketed in accordance with Sec 7606 is legal. This Farm Bill language has opened a world of investment opportunities for farmers, processors, manufacturers and retails to add additional crops to rotations, materials to extract, products to make and finished products to consume.
In addition, there is no “sunset clause” within this language, so the research program does not have a timeline limit. However, a new Farm Bill is up for renewal in 2018. This Farm Bill will hopefully provide even more valuable language to secure production, banking and other industry protocols, and ideally would remove hemp entirely from the Controlled Substances Act.