A historic bill will soon be written into US law that will completely legalise hemp and hemp-derived CBD in America.
And by making hemp and its derivatives federally legal, the 2018 Farm Bill, which could be signed off by President Trump as early as next week, could have repercussions for hemp industries around the world.
Not least in the UK, where the rapidly growing CBD market has been hampered by the reluctance of major banking institutions (many US-based) to offer their services, such as merchant accounts and insurance for CBD businesses.
Additionally, online megaliths Google and Facebook could also loosen their restrictions on companies advertising CBD, clearing the way for the industry to really explode into the mainstream.
The 2018 Farm Bill
Championed by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the 2018 Farm Bill will see hemp and its derivatives (including CBD) removed from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
While the 2014 Farm Bill made it legal to grow and study hemp through agricultural programs and universities, this new bill explicitly defines hemp as an agricultural commodity, not a drug, removing many of the limitations to farming the crop.
The progress of the 2018 Farm Bill follows the June approval by the FDA of Epidiolex, a CBD medicine for epilepsy, which is currently available by prescription in all 50 states.
What the Farm Bill means for UK CBD companies
Even with the limitations that CBD companies in the UK have faced, the industry has already grown with such gusto that it’s hard to ignore.
CBD is now available in countless products from topicals and e-liquid to edibles and cosmetics, and can be bought in numerous well-known high street shops and even more online shops which have sprouted up to take advantage of the demand for this highly therapeutic molecule.
The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill into law will see many limitations lifted. Banking will become easier, as well as online advertising. Not only that, an increase in production could well see prices drop and quality increase as investments in research and development ramps up.
These changes will no doubt allow the UK CBD industry to mature quickly and start fulfilling its potential to become a multi-billion pound industry over the coming years.
The restrictions UK hemp farmers face
2018 has been a big year when it comes to cannabis laws. More than half of U.S. states have now legalised cannabis in some form, as have a few European countries – including the UK, which introduced a medical cannabis scheme in November.
However, outdated hemp laws in the UK are stifling our own domestic hemp industry.
You see, once they have acquired a hard-to-get and expensive licence, hemp farmers in the UK are prohibited from making use of hemp flowers – they can only use stalk and seed and must dispose of the CBD-producing flowers.
Therefore, while our own farmers are throwing away perfectly good hemp flowers, CBD companies are forced to import millions-of-pounds worth of hemp flower-derived CBD oil from abroad.
Additionally, UK growers must deal with THC limits that are the lowest of any nation (0.2%, as opposed to 0.3% in America, 0.6% in Italy, and 1% in Switzerland ).
Are changes to the UK’s hemp laws coming?
These laws make it hard for the UK hemp industry to compete globally and grow as quickly as it would with fewer restrictions.
This makes little sense and there are rumblings of potential changes to our hemp laws.
The British Hemp Association (BHA) is one organisation pushing for such changes – most notably, the right to process the whole plant, including flower, and increasing the THC limit in the growing plant in line with America to 0.3%.
Perhaps more likely to affect change, as reported by The Times, an aristocratic family has lobbied Secretary of State Michael Gove to remove the ban on British farmers processing hemp flowers and producing CBD oil.
A bright future for CBD and hemp in the UK
The news of the 2018 Farm Bill’s progression in America is great news for the UK’s CBD and hemp industries.
Not only will open up banking and widescale advertising, giving companies a chance to realise their potential, but it will go some way to removing the stigma surrounding the controversial plant.
If the UK government sees sense and aids the domestic industry with changes to our own hemp laws, there is reason to believe that hemp and CBD will be the UK’s next major industry.
And a boom in domestic hemp farming and CBD production may well become the economic parachute that softens the blow of our departure from the EU.