2018 was an extraordinary year for the hemp industry. Removed from the shackles of federal prohibition, hemp is poised for an even greater 2019. Still, challenges remain from regulators and competing industries. Here’s a wrap-up of the past year and a look toward the next:
THE ERA OF HEMP PROHIBITION IS OVER!
At 4:00 PM on December 20, 2018, President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill which permanently removed hemp and popular hemp products such as cannabidiol (CBD) from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act. With the help of partner organizations and tens of thousands of Hemp Supporters, the US Hemp Roundtable achieved its founding mission. Here’s the Roundtable’s victory statement, our press clippings, and a clear summary of what the Farm Bill will do to launch hemp into the economic stratosphere.
THE FDA SOFTENS ITS HARDLINE STANCE ON CBD:
Entering the year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintained a firm public stance that suggested that CBD products could not be marketed as foods or dietary supplements. But by May, FDA scientists were concluding that CBD has no abuse potential and does not pose a risk to public health. In the hours following the Farm Bill signing, the agency issued two ground-breaking statements: (1) opining that hulled hemp seed, hemp seed protein powder and hemp seed oil are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) under their intended conditions of use; and (2) that the agency is seriously considering using its authority to issue a regulation that will specifically allow hemp-derived CBD ingredients in foods and supplements, and that it will reach out to the industry and the public for input. The Roundtable will be in the room where it happens.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS MOVE TOWARD CBD DESCHEDULING:
In August, the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence recommended that “preparations considered to be pure CBD should not be scheduled within the International Drug Control Conventions.” There were some hopes for a permanent resolution at a Geneva conference in November, but the Committee demurred, stating that “more time was needed to review the available information and that the recommendation will be communicated in due course.” The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs is set to meet in March 2019, so there is hope that the issue will be further clarified.
MOMENTUM BUILDS AT THE STATE LEVEL, WITH A FEW SETBACKS:
After New Jersey joined the hemp pilot program party in November, 41 states had passed some form of hemp legalization. Meanwhile, in response to confusion or misguided action by law enforcement or state agencies, legislatures in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri passed strong pro-CBD laws, improper arrests of CBD store owners in Tennessee were dismissed, and Attorneys General in Wisconsin and Alabama reversed their anti-CBD positions when presented with clear evidence of its value and legality. On the other side, prompted by marijuana license holders, health departments in Ohio and California opined that CBD could only be sold in marijuana dispensaries, creating public outcries. The Roundtable will be deeply engaged in 2019 on efforts to legalize all hemp products in all 50 states, already laying the groundwork with efforts in Ohio, California, Florida, Washington, Georgia, West Virginia, and Texas.
US HEMP AUTHORITY IS LAUNCHED:
In an effort funded by the US Hemp Roundtable — and joined by organizations such as the Hemp Industries Association and the American Herbal Products Association — industry leading firms, top-tier testing laboratories, and quality assessors developed comprehensive guidance for growers and processors of hemp. Hemp growers and processors who comply with this new U.S. Hemp Authority Guidance Program, and verified by a 3rdparty audit, will be authorized to use the U.S. Hemp Authority™ “Certified” Seal in their advertising, marketing and product labeling to give consumers confidence that their products are safe and of the highest possible quality, while giving law enforcement assurance that the products are legal hemp. The U.S. Hemp Authority™ offers a training program which will guide people through the certification process and prepare them for the audit. The first “Certified” Seals will be used on products on January 1, 2019; go to www.ushempauthority.org for more details.
US HEMP FARMING ALLIANCE IS LAUNCHED:
Great interest had been developed for an organization that advocates solely for the interests of hemp farmers. The Alliance’s primary missions will include advocacy on behalf of hemp farmers before law enforcement, state regulators and federal agencies; education for hemp farmers on the evolving legal and regulatory frameworks; service as a central clearinghouse for hemp industry resources; interaction with the U.S. Hemp Authority in its development of standards and best practices; marketing of the industry to consumers and end-users; and collaboration in the future on programs such as crop and health insurance, state check-offs, and banking. For more information, contact email@example.com.
BUILDING A BRIDGE TO THE GRASSROOTS:
The hemp industry has never been more united, and the Roundtable took major leaps in 2018 building relationships with hemp’s leading grassroots organizations. The Roundtable formed a close partnership with the Hemp Industries Association, as the two groups collaborated on a number of joint projects, including the development of the US Hemp Authority. Meanwhile, the Roundtable is excited to serve as an official advocacy partner of Hemp History Week, the industry’s leading education forum, as it celebrates a decade in service to farmers and small businesses.
MANY MORE SEATS AT THE ROUNDTABLE:
An organization that was born in the basement of its General Counsel, with four founding companies present, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable has now emerged as 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. Quarterly meetings – this year held in Anaheim, Chicago, Lexington and Washington D.C. – joined the industry for important business and fun networking and socializing. Learn more about the organization – and how to join in its critical mission – at this link.