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Impact of the 2018 Farm Bill and Hemp Legalization

2018 Farm Bill Hemp Legal
What is the 2018 Farm Bill?
Hemp Is Officially Legalized With President Trump's Signature On the 2018 Farm Bill

On December 20, 2018, President Trump's signature on the 2018 Farm Bill finally distinguished hemp from its somewhat infamous cannabis cousin marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill's passing ends decades of misconception and bias against the nonpsychoactive and historically beneficial hemp crop which was erroneously associated with marijuana and restricted by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. While the two cannabis plants are both members of the Sativa L species they are otherwise as different as apples are to oranges.

It's taken decades for the venerable hemp plant to overcome the politically motivated bias induced by the Marijuana Tax Act and the lingering fallout of public misconceptions fueled by 1939's infamous film  "Reefer Madness". In this post, the hemp aficionados at Modern Nature will take a detailed look at the paradigm shift we can expect from this long overdue groundbreaking legislation, and its effects on US farmers, health consumers, and the hemp industry. We'll also rein in some of the myths and analyze the controversy about the ramifications of federally legalized hemp and what impact the 2018 Farm Bill will have on Americans and most especially our informed CBD health consumers.

To understand the monumental significance of the 2018 Farm Bill, we'll begin by recounting the roller-coaster history of hemp in the US, looking at its rise and fall throughout the centuries, culminating with the joyful hemp revival we are now experiencing as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

The History of Hemp in the United States
The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Hemp in the US

Hemp is one of civilization's earliest known cultivated crops, dating back 10,000 years to Ancient China where it originated on the island we now know as Taiwan. Throughout history, hemp has been embraced all around the globe for its astounding utilitarian value. The easy-growing, soil-friendly crop was prized by early human societies for its multifaceted fibers. Hemp is extremely useful as the fiber source for paper, rope, clothing, and sailcloth to name just a few of hemp's many applications in the pre-industrial age. Hemp oil was the fuel for lamps as well as the base for making durable paints and varnishes for maritime use. Its leaves and oil have long been known to be an effective addition to food, and in the era before modern medicine was included in food recipes and teas to treat common ailments including:

  • intestinal constipation
  • rheumatic pain (inflammation)
  • malaria
  • disorders of the female reproductive system. (Most famously, Queen Victoria was prescribed a cannabis tincture in 1890 to relieve menstrual cramps.)

It's generally believed that the cultivated form of the hemp plant was introduced to the North American continent by early American settlers from Europe in the 16th century, and in South America hemp was one of the first crops brought over by 15th Century explorers. Hemp grows so well in such a variety of locations that colonial farmers nicknamed it "ditch weed", referring to the plant's tendency to pop up wherever soil and moisture conditions suited the versatile cannabis plant.

Washington, Jefferson, and the Colonial Hemp Economy

Hemp cultivation was frequently mandated by British colonial governments. As the source for so many staples of the colonial economy in the form of clothing, yarn, rope, sacks, and particularly the vital shipbuilding industry which connected America with the rest of the world in a maritime economy, hemp was so valuable it could be used to pay taxes. Just one famous ship, the USS Constitution, required 120,000 pounds of hemp fiber for rigging alone, and even more hemp oil and fibers for the sails and waterproofing.

President Trump isn't the first president to recognize hemp as an essential part of US agriculture and the national economy. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were prolific hemp farmers and encouraged other farmers to grow it for its agricultural benefits. Hemp crops actually revitalize and condition the soil for nutrient hungry crops such as corn and legumes, and hemp is an excellent feed source for healthy livestock. The fellow Virginian gentlemen farmers were known to exchange their favorite hemp blends for smoking, which may explain how George Washington was able to withstand the rigors of leading the American Revolution while enduring the pain of gout, not to mention his infamous dental discomfort. Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper, and just to give you an idea of hemp's utilitarian versatility, President Trump had the opportunity to sign the 2108 Farm Bill with a hemp pen.

Hemp in the US From the 19th Century to the 1950s

By the 19th Century, hemp had spread with American settlers to Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky and farmers in those states produced most of the hemp for the young nation. The first blow to the hemp economy came in the form of the steam engine, a paradigm shift for the shipping industry which severely reduced demand for hemp in the maritime sector. But hemp is so versatile it still found a place in the fiber market.

By 1918 labor-saving hemp harvesting technology pioneered by International Harvester lowered production costs. Hemp processing largely migrated to Wisconsin where local hemp grower Matt Rens built steam-powered mechanized hemp mills and generated contracts with Wisconsin farmers resulting in hemp crops covering thousands of acres.

After WW1 however, new synthetic fibers began to creep into the market and demand for hemp fiber dropped off significantly. In WW2, supply and demand pressures of the war effort provided a brief revival for hemp growers with the "Hemp For Victory" campaign but the war concluded before hemp could re-establish itself as an economic staple again. By the 1950s modern synthetic fibers reduced hemp demand to a trickle, and the fall of hemp was imminent.

It would take a renewed interest in cannabis for its medicinal value in general, and the discovery of the endocannabinoid system and the hemp-derived cannabinoid CBD's amazing therapeutic benefits specifically, to launch the hemp revival which we are at last experiencing now with the common sense passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

What the Passing of Farm Bill 2018 Means for Hemp Legalization
The Impact of Hemp Legalization For Americans

"This is absolutely world history! What the Congress did … is going to change the future for this industry and the world," -Dr. Bomi Joseph, founder of Peak Health Center, as reported by greenhousemag.com 

At last, the 2018 Farm Bill has removed hemp from restrictions imposed under the Controlled Substances Act, opening the door to a projected $22 billion dollar market by the year 2022. Individual states will be able to regulate the hemp industry as they see fit, while farmers are now able to receive hemp cultivation permits at the federal level. 40 states have already established hemp pilot programs to boost industry and the resulting tax revenue in what some experts characterize as a much-needed law worth $867 billion to US agriculture. So which American sectors will benefit?

  • Farmers- Small family farms, in particular, can now benefit by making significant income from hemp on just a small amount of acreage. Hemp yields about one pound per plant and can be grown well in intense concentrations of 2,500 plants per acre, resulting in yields of $60,000 per acre. Hemp will also be covered under the Federal Crop Insurance Act to protect hemp farmers in the event of crop loss.
  • Manufacturers- Just as President Trump had the opportunity to sign the Farm Bill with a hemp pen, thousands of products can be manufactured from hemp fibers, restoring hemp as an agricultural commodity by making it a manufacturing staple. In the 21st Century age of sustainability and green-minded public consciousness, hemp products are certain to gain widespread popularity with US and world consumers.
  • Retailers- Hemp-based products are available in an astounding variety from lotions, soaps, and candies, to clothing, yarn, and jewelry with all of the selling points listed above.  
  • Health Consumers- As CBD awareness races around the world, CBD consumers now have a clear legal path to obtain CBD as an essential part of their daily health regimens. Americans have discovered the many health benefits of CBD products and the Farm Bill classifies hemp as an agricultural product to be cultivated under the supervision of the FDA and state departments of agriculture to ensure the safety and quality of the products derived from it. 
Rules That Still Apply to CBD After Hemp Legalization

It's important to remember that cannabis plants must contain less than .03% of THC to be classified as legal hemp. That means that obtaining the benefits of CBD content in medical marijuana products may still not be an option in many states because the high THC content still makes it illegal. CBD derived from marijuana is still illegal. 

John Hudak of the Brookings Institute provides some clarification in the Boston Globe report, explaining that only cannabinoids derived from hemp are now legal under Section 12619 of the Farm Bill. CBD from marijuana retains Schedule 1 status under the Controlled Substances Act. As a derivative of hemp, the CBD cannabinoid is legal "if and only if that hemp is produced in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill, associated federal regulations, association state regulations, and by a licensed grower."

About Modern Nature

At Modern Nature, we are proud to provide the informed health consumers who are our loyal customers with the legal hemp-derived CBD capsules they need as an essential part of their daily health regimens. Our Modern Nature CBD capsules allow our customers to monitor the precise amount of CBD they take to achieve the results they seek. CBD is known to alleviate symptoms from a wide variety of ailments and disorders, and its powerful antioxidant, antianxiety, and analgesic properties provide a safe natural supplement which is essential to an active healthy lifestyle.