Farm Bill Removes Outdated Federal Regulations Linking Hemp To Marijuana, Will Legalize Growth In The U.S.

Jennifer Swarthout

Hemp is not the same as marijuana; they are simply both part of the Cannabis family of plants. The differences are staggering in its cultivation, usage, and purpose.

Hemp was a thriving crop in the United States all throughout the mid-1800s. In 1970, the political leaders grouped all Cannabis species as a Schedule 1 Drug and banned it under the Controlled Substances Act.

At that time, it was believed that smoking hemp could produce a euphoric high similar to that of its cousin. Science has since proven this to be inaccurate. The Ministry Of Hemp states that the level of THC, the chemical that causes the euphoric effects, is extremely low in hemp. In fact, hemp contains a different chemical known as CBD, which actually obstructs the effects of THC.

It has taken nearly 50 years, but the government has found a way to distinguish the two plants from each other, noting that hemp can be used in skin products, clothing, dietary supplements, and more than 25,000 other uses. Forbes reports that hemp will finally be legalized to grow in the U.S. under a larger food and agriculture legislation known as the Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill was passed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 86-11 and it contains "provisions to legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp," a move that allows hemp farmers to cover their plants under crop insurance.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel established legislation known as the Hemp Farming Act in April. Those provisions were included within the Farm Bill when it hit the Senate floor this month.

In a speech on Thursday, the GOP leader had the following to say.

"Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp. Due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It's left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreign-produced hemp."

The language supporting hemp growth legalization has been approved by Senate, and will now be included in the discussion "by the bicameral conference committee that will merge both chambers' bills into a single piece of legislation." The legislation will then be sent to President Trump.

"All indications are that McConnell, as the most powerful senator, will fight hard for the survival of his hemp proposal."