Rachel Gillette and Nabil Rodriguez, J.D.*
As the federal government enters its fourth week of government shutdown due to a lack of funding, the USDA continues to be prevented from implementing the 2018 Farm Bill. This shutdown not only prohibits the USDA from drafting regulations for hemp, but also from moving forward in the process for the approval of new hemp cultivation plans. This is a clear setback for the industrial hemp industry and certainly frustrates the long-awaited progress made removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, thus impacting hemp farmers, businesses and researchers alike.
The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (“Farm Bill”) was signed into law by President Trump on December 20, 2018, legalizing hemp on a federal level with the power to enact federal regulations given to the Secretary of Agriculture. However, the USDA, among other agencies, was operating under a continuing funding resolution that expired December 21, 2018. Although this historic passing finally removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, the government shutdown has had a significant impact on the timetable to see any real effects of hemp legalization in early 2019.
Until funding issues are resolved, the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill will remain on hold. In short, there is a lot more work to be done to see true progress as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill, including work to ensure hemp-derived CBD oil is properly treated by the FDA.
*Nabil Rodriguez is not an attorney