May 17, 2024

House Farm Bill released – Good News for Hemp in Current Text, Deep Concerns About Possible Amendment

Today, the long awaited 2024 Farm Bill was released this morning by the House Agriculture Committee.  It has some very good news for hemp. But rumors loom of a possible amendment that could devastate the hemp product industry.

First, on the positive side:  The newly-released Farm Bill draft includes 4 major priorities of the Roundtable and the coalition of 33 hemp non-profit organizations that joined several months ago to share the industry’s consensus agenda. 

  1. It allows USDA, states and/or tribes to eliminate or reduce regulatory burdens, such as testing requirements for “industrial hemp” farmers.  “Industrial hemp” is defined to include hemp produced for its fiber; for grain, oil and non-cannabinoid compounds; immature hemp plants, and plants intended for hemp research.  The bill specifically mentions “performance-based” testing which was the very proposal of our consensus group.
  2. It allows USDA, states and/or tribes to eliminate the felony drug ban on industrial hemp growers.  (Note that this is imperfect, it does NOT repeal the felony ban for hemp farmers who grow for cannabinoid extraction, as does the Senate proposal released recently.)
  3. It ends the monopoly that the DEA has on registering laboratories to measure THC levels in hemp plants. The USDA could now issue certificates of accreditation to labs to test for THC.
  4. It does NOT amend the definition of “hemp” in ways that could lead to bans of popular hemp products, as proposed by prohibitionists and some marijuana industry groups.

Unfortunately, this bill introduction is not the end of the debate on the hemp products issue.  Amendment language is being circulated in the halls of Congress that would result in “hemp” being redefined to federally ban all hemp products that contain any “quantifiable” or “detectable” level of THC.  It is purported to be aimed at intoxicating products like Delta-8, but the specific language would require a federal ban on the vast majority of non-intoxicating CBD products as well.

Our lobbyists on Capitol Hill have been playing a game of Whack-a-mole with various rumors and draft language that has been circulated.  Every time we think the effort is dead, there’s a new rumor to chase down. 

If an amendment is introduced, we will learn about it soon – the Agriculture Committee meets next Thursday the 23rd to mark up the bill and consider amendments.

Please stay tuned and be prepared to assist us in efforts to kill any amendment that poses an existential threat to the industry.  We will be in touch with a concerted email campaign should this occur.