Late in the evening of December 10, 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill House/Senate Conference Committee released its Conference Report. The 807-page document is nearly half a foot tall. Hemp is discussed in only a few handfuls of pages. But the impact on the industry is monumental:
SECTION BY SECTION
Section 7129 (p. 313): Includes hemp in USDA’s supplemental and alternative crops programs.
Section 7501 (p. 338): Includes hemp in USDA’s critical agricultural materials programs.
Section 7605 (p. 347): Orders the USDA Secretary to prepare a report on the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program, and then repeals that program one year after the new permanent hemp program is created.
Section 10113 (p. 429): The guts of the new permanent legalization regime:
Section 10114 (p. 435): Nothing in the act prohibits the interstate commerce of hemp, nor can States or Tribes prohibit the transportation of hemp or hemp products through their territory.
Title XI (p. 439): Hemp farmers are made eligible for crop insurance, and marketability requirements for the crop insurance program can be waived.
Section 12619 (p. 540): Hemp is removed from the definition of “marihuana,” and THC found in hemp is excluded from the definition of a controlled substance.
Key notes from the Conference Report Managers’ Summary:
p. 738: The Managers note that “state and Tribal governments are authorized to put more restrictive parameters on the production of hemp, but are not authorized to alter the definition of hemp or put in place policies that are less restrictive.”
p. 738: The Managers note that the USDA Secretary must consult with the Attorney General regarding approval of state or Tribal plans, but “the Managers intend that the final decision to be made by the Secretary.” States or Tribes can appeal or resubmit plans that are rejected or revoked.
p. 739: Any drug felonies committed after the permanent program begins will ban participants from participating, regardless of whether they participated in the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program.
p. 739: The USDA Secretary must make program information accessible in real time to law enforcement, and is encouraged to develop a memorandum of understanding to define the parameters of this information sharing.
p. 739: “While states and Indian tribes may limit the production and sale of hemp and hemp products within their borders, the Managers, in Section 10122, agreed to not allow such states and Indian tribes to limit the transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp products through the state or Indian territory.”
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable is the hemp industry’s leading business trade association. The Roundtable involves more than 60 businesses – representing all parts of the hemp food chain, from seed to sale – as well as all of the major national grassroots organizations in the industry. The Roundtable’s primary mission has been to support lobbying efforts to secure permanent legalization of hemp and hemp products at the federal and state level.
Jonathan Miller, General Counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, is the Member-in-Charge of Frost Brown Todd LLC (Lexington KY) and the former Kentucky State Treasurer.
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