This month marks the passing of 2 years since low-THC hemp has become legalized through the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Since then, the hemp and CBD market has been through a lot, and has experienced highs and lows that nobody could have predicted.
As a general trend, hemp acreage has gone up, and widespread acceptance has continued to grow for its byproducts, such as CBD, CBN, and CBG products. However, a lack of set regulations has continued to hold back the industry in certain areas that are essential for its growth.
So as we bypass hemp’s 2 year legalization mark and approach the new year, we wanted to reflect on some important moments for the hemp industry so far.
10 Important Hemp Dates
Below are 10 dates (or general timeframes) that are important to note when talking about the hemp timeline since its legalization. These dates each mark a turning point for the industry, and have helped define the industry as what it is today.
December 20th, 2018
On this day in 2018, President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, into law. This removed all cannabis with less than 0.3% THC from federal drug control, which placed hemp under the supervision of U.S. Agriculture authorities.
This was a long-awaited bill, especially after several years had passed since the first states in the country had legalized marijuana for adult recreational use. Other advocates also called for hemp legalization due to the number of other possibilities it provides.
December 21st, 2018
Within a day of the Farm Bill being signed into law allowing hemp to be grown legally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminded the public that they maintain authority over how CBD may be used. The FDA pushed out a memo telling consumers and business owners that it was still illegal to add CBD to foods, beverages, and cosmetics.
The exact law for these types of products still sits in a gray area. The FDA has yet to publish any permanent regulations for CBD, and states technically have the authority to govern their own laws regarding cannabis. Therefore, certain areas throughout the U.S. sell CBD-infused food and drinks, and CBD cosmetics have been growing in popularity, especially among celebrities.
April 18th, 2019
Until this day in 2019, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) controlled all (well, most of) cannabis movement in and out of the U.S. However, this was no longer the case once the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) brought hemp seed into the country and helped farmers and producers become more self-sufficient.
This also gave farmers and other producers a bigger variety of hemp strains to choose from. This was especially helpful for companies trying to target strains that also produce a lot of CBN and CBG.
April 24th, 2019
Not even a week after hemp seed was brought into the country, the USDA also offered U.S. cannabis growers protection for seed-propagated varieties. The Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO), which provides intellectual property protection to producers of new varieties of seeds, began accepting hemp applications, creating a safer and more stable market for new farmers.
October 28th, 2019
Nearly a year after hemp was legalized, the USDA released national rules for growing hemp. This established rules for growing, processing, sampling, testing, and so on.
While this may seem like a BIG step forward for the hemp industry, the rules were actually met with a significant amount of backlash. This was due to the strict guidelines that were set in place on the testing and sampling. Part of these rules mandated the destruction of any hemp plants containing more than 0.3% THC content. This resulted in massive, unavoidable revenue losses for many first-time farmers.
The entire month of November last year was a big slump for the CBD industry. It was during this time that Federal health officials began to crack down on their stance against CBD-infused edibles, issuing numerous warning letters to CBD companies making those products.
These letters contained a statement from the FDA that CBD is not generally considered safe. This resulted in several state health departments clamping down on the inclusion of CBD edibles on the shelves of markets, slowing down the profit that companies were making from them at the time.
Luckily, the popularity of these products combined with their minimal side effects helped their market get back on track. To this day CBD gummies are one of the most popular CBD products.
December of 2019 was littered with criminal cases over the interstate transportation of industrial hemp. Due to its physical resemblance and similar odor to marijuana, many transporters were falsely being charged for the transportation of a controlled substance.
This sparked the USDA and Justice Department to begin working on an information-sharing platform that would create “some level of solution” for identifying the two plants, especially during traffic stops.
No timeframe was given for when the platform would be up and running, and these false criminal cases continue to pop up across the country. However, these first steps indicate that the problem is acknowledged and needs to be rectified.
February 26th, 2020
Prior to this day, it was set to be that all THC testing on hemp plants was required to be conducted at labs that were registered with the DEA. However, Federal agriculture officials delayed these requirements with a concern that these tight regulations would smother the new industry and restrict growth.
This growing concern also caused agriculture officials to loosen up their proposal on the destruction of non-compliant hemp plants, allowing producers to still earn money on their hot plants rather than completely swallowing a loss.
With a lack of regulations, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a massive amount of destroyed crops from the previous year, the summer of 2020 was not kind to the hemp industry. For the first time since the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp acreage saw a decrease over the course of a year (2019-2020).
September 30th, 2020
This day in hemp’s history has a love/hate relationship among those involved in the hemp industry. Hemp farmers growing in states without a federally-approved cultivation plan were facing strict regulations set by the federal government.
However, these hemp farmers were able to sigh a breath of relief after a one year extension was granted for the pilot rules. This allowed farmers to avoid the standard federal regulations that included crushing application and testing fees.
While this extension caused many states to rejoice, other states were frustrated after having already made the necessary adjustments to survive the more strict regulations.
Moving Into 2021
Heading into its third year of legalization, the hemp industry is looking at a new USDA. Many questions remain surrounding the regulation of hemp and its byproducts, and more financial burdens are inevitably going to arise as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on.
However, despite these nagging question marks, you can expect to see hemp acreage continue to grow while the demand for CBD products continues to rise. If 2021 is the year that CBD products get their permanent regulations in place, then expect a jump in the industry like no other.
Thanks for reading, stay safe out there, and have a great New Year.