President Donald Trump added his signature to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) on Thursday, removing the longstanding federal ban on commercial hemp production in the United States.
The 2014 version of the Farm Bill allowed states to permit farmers to cultivate hemp as part of an institutional pilot program but did not make provisions for commercial use.
Provisions within the 2018 Farm Bill amend the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that hemp plants containing less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are no longer classified as Schedule I narcotics.
“With the passage of the Farm Bill, we are delivering to the farmers and ranchers who are the heart and soul of America all sorts of things that they never even thought possible,” said President Trump. “We are ensuring that American agriculture will always feed our families, nourish our communities, power our commerce, and inspire our nation.”
Any states wishing to take advantage of the new commercial hemp industry must submit a plan to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture who will then have sixty days to approve, amend, or deny it.
“The significance of this law change should not be underemphasized,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano in an online statement. “This law marks the first change in the federal classification of the cannabis plant since it was initially classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by Congress in 1970, and paces the way for the first federally-sanctioned commercial hemp grows since World War II.”
With President Trump’s signature now in place, the 2018 Farm Bill goes into effect on January 1, 2019.