New Farm Bill to Overhaul Hemp Industry

The 2018 Farm Bill legalizes commercial production of hemp and explicitly honors tribes’ authority to implement programs that allow the cultivation of industrial hemp—regardless of state law.

That’s a critical change. For instance, in October 2015, Drug Enforcement Agents destroyed the Menominee Indian Tribe’s hemp crops in Wisconsin. That year, a federal court ruled that the 2014 Farm Bill required the hemp be cultivated in compliance with state law. Although the tribe had legalized the growing and cultivation of industrial hemp on its land, Wisconsin had not implemented an agricultural pilot program to research industrial hemp. Thus, the Menominee tribe could not legally cultivate hemp, under the terms of the 2014 Farm Bill, the federal court determined. The 2018 bill would change that.

(Wisconsin later shifted its stance. In late 2017, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that allows Wisconsin farmers to grow industrial hemp. In July 2018, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel reached an agreement with the St. Croix Chippewa Tribe on the full implementation of the Tribe’s hemp and cannabidiol (“CBD”) control program. The agreement established the first tribally-owned and operated hemp business in Wisconsin, home to 11 federally recognized tribes.)

RELATED: Tribes Look to Cannabis and Hemp Industries for New Revenue Streams

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, states that don’t adopt an industrial hemp program cannot interfere with the transportation or shipment of industrial hemp. While the bill does not require individual states to permit the sale of industrial hemp or hemp products, it does bar states from intervening with its distribution.

The new provisions are also significant as the 2014 Farm Bill did not require states to distinguish between hemp and marijuana. The 2018 Far Bill removes hemp, a member of the cannabis family, from classification with marijuana as a Schedule I controlled narcotic, federally prohibited under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Hemp does not contain THC (the chemical component that causes a person to become “high”).

Hemp lends itself to a variety of products, including paper, clothing, rope, food, medicine, fuel such as ethanol, and CBD-derived products. Cannabidiol, commonly called CBD, is a hemp extract widely recognized for its use in treating a variety of medical ailments and treatment of childhood epilepsy.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the farm bill on December 12. It now requires President Donald Trump’s signature.

The U.S. hemp industry anticipates hemp business and investment radically expanding. If Trump authorizes the 2018 Farm Bill, it will also open doors for easier access to capital, crop insurance and federal grants for hemp farming.

“This is a monumental bill for hemp farming,” said Lauren Stansbury of the Hemp Industries Association.

RELATED: Symposium to Explore Cannabis and Hemp for Economic Development

Alex White Plume, Oglala Lakota, who fought a nearly two-decade battle to grow hemp on tribal lands in South Dakota, considers the 2018 Farm Bill, expected to be signed by Trump, a forthcoming victory.

An estimated 32 DEA agents raided his property in 2000, chopping down his acres of hemp crops. “I live in the poorest community and the poorest county in America today. I was desperate to bring some type of economic development in, where we could use the land without destroying the land,” White Plume previously told Native Business Magazine.

This year, the White Plume family inked a partnered with the Boulder, Colorado-based Evo Hemp to produce full-spectrum CBD extracts. Evo Hemp is known for its line of Hemp Bars sold in more than 3,000 retailers, including Whole Foods Markets and Kroger. Today, anyone can purchase organic HempX Extract and HempX Capsules, made from White Plume’s organic, cannabinoid-rich hemp flower, thanks to his partnership with Evo Hemp.

Read more about the “Hemp Warrior” and his partnership with Evo Hemp in the debut November issue of Native Business Magazine available for download at Native Business Magazine print content is exclusive and not available online.