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Congress Passes New Bill That Could Legalize Hemp CBD Products Nationwide

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Update: On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed the U.S. Farm Bill into law, officially legalizing hemp nationwide.

On Wednesday, Congress passed the U.S. Farm Bill, which, among other changes, legalized hemp in the United States. Hemp, which is a strain of cannabis that’s often conflated with marijuana, is a critical component of CBD products. With the passage of the farm bill, helmed by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), it seems that by extension, hemp-based CBD products are now legal at the federal level.

Hemp and marijuana are derived from different strains of the cannabis plant and contain cannabidiol or CBD, which has been shown to have positive benefits for many with chronic illness, chronic pain and mental health conditions like anxiety. In June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD treatment for some forms of epilepsy.

Despite its benefits, CBD in almost any form is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a controlled substance, barring it from research and use as a medical product. As public support for CBD grows, however, it’s already legal in 47 states, but not at the federal level. It’s estimated that by 2020 CBD sales with hit $1 billion in the United States.

Most notably, CBD from hemp plants and CBD from marijuana are classified the same by the DEA. Neither hemp or marijuana CBD causes users to get a “high.” Unlike CBD derived from marijuana, hemp contains negligible levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical in cannabis plants that leads to a “high.” The new farm bill explicitly separates hemp from marijuana, which should prompt the DEA to remove it from its list of controlled substances.

It remains to be seen how the DEA will implement this new law and its classification of CBD. However, by formally legalizing hemp farming in the bill, it seems more likely CBD products derived from hemp can be legally expanded at the national level. It also clears the way for researchers to apply for federal grants to study and expand our understanding of the health benefits of CBD.

“The passing of the farm bill will most certainly open up the marketplace for hemp products, specifically hemp extracts that are high in CBD,” Josh Hendrix, director of domestic product business development for cannabis company CV Sciences, told Business Insider. “It will provide a higher comfort level for retailers and consumers and will lead to more investment and opportunity in the industry as it will continue to see rapid expansion.”

Header image via yavdat/Getty Images.

Originally published: December 14, 2018
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