May 01, 2024

BREAKING: Senate Dems and House GOP Release Farm Bill Frameworks – Some Good News for Hemp

This morning the Senate Agriculture Committee Democratic leadership and the House Agriculture Committee Republican leadership released their frameworks for the 2024 Farm Bill.  (Links to Senate Dems and House GOP)

House Republicans released a five-page summary document with a broad overview of key policy objectives laid out the Farm Bill draft.  There is no mention of hemp.  But don’t read too much into that – we’ve had numerous meetings with House Republican and Democratic committee leaders who have indicated that they are looking to promote hemp farming, and we are hopeful that several items of our agenda will be incorporated.  (Here is a link to the hemp industry priorities document – joined by 33 non-profit organizations in the hemp space.)

Senate Democrats released a much more extensive 94 page, section-by section summary of their Farm Bill draft.  This includes the following section on hemp:

We are thrilled that two principal items of our hemp industry agenda were included.  Repealing the hemp felon ban has been a high priority of the US Hemp Roundtable since the 2018 Farm Bill passed, and we are encouraged that it is listed as a priority of Senate Democrats. We are glad that this ban repeal covers all farmers and is not limited to a select few as we have seen in some legislation.  Farmers who have paid their time should be eligible to grow a legal crop.

We are also excited to see that regulatory barriers will be lowered for farmers who grow hemp grain and fiber.  We don’t know whether this means a full exemption as proposed by some activists, the “fit for purpose” approach suggested by our multi-organization coalition, or something entirely different.  Regardless, any step in the right direction in this regard will be applauded.

What was not mentioned in either document is a redefinition of hemp that could result in the prohibition of popular hemp products that have rescued the industry and farmers in recent years.  Some marijuana organizations have joined prohibitionists to propose bans that could federally criminalize products with any amount of THC, even non-intoxicating full spectrum CBD products.  We continue to lobby Congress against such restrictions and are hopeful that our approach – regulating all products and keeping products that may impair out of the hands of children – will prevail in the end.

Stay tuned to this space as more details and legislative language are released in the weeks ahead.