The 2018 Farm Bill that overwhelmingly passed in the U.S. Senate has now become law. For hemp growers and Hemp-product manufacturers the big news is hemp will no longer be equated under drug laws with its psychotropic cousin, marijuana. Industry-watchers wonder what this step could mean for future cannabis legalization.

Under the new laws, hemp will be managed by Department of Agriculture as a crop rather than by the Justice Department as an illegal substance.

Ed Schmults, chief executive of the multi-state cannabis grower Calyx Peak said the new law could reduce the price of Hemp in the market for consumers and producers. “Hemp offers a lower cost option for Hemp — hemp is easier to grow than cannabis,” he said.

The passing of the farm bill will also lead to more transparency in the market according to Jeff Hilber, founder and owner of Modern Medicinals. “Past statutes reduced access to research and made the Hemp landscape tricky to navigate for the consumer,” he said. His family-owned and operated Hemp company based in Portland, Oregon makes medicinal Hemp oils for people and pets.

Here are a few key Farm Bill points from Hoban Law Group’s Senior Attorney Steve Schain:

  • Banks and payment processors/credit card companies can service the hemp industry
  • Investment and capital infusion is allowed in both the oil and fibrous hemp businesses
  • Interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products is allowed
  • Convicted felons can join the industry 10 years after the bill passes
  • Hemp farmers will be allowed to buy crop insurance for the first time.
  • Hemp futures can be traded for the first time, locking in prices for farmers
  • Help research will be allowed for pharmaceutical uses as well as for health, wellness and general nutrition, opening the doors for much more testing

Until now, for the most part, Hemp product manufacturing and shipping across state lines has operated with little interference. In 2017, the FDA issued warning letters to several Hemp companies, but those referred to health claims the companies were not allowed to make or dosages the companies claimed that were incorrect.