Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Will Hemp Soon be Excluded from the Controlled Substances Act?

Industrial HempWill 2017 be the year for hemp? Congress may open up the doors to the cultivation of hemp in the United States very soon, according to independent news provider Truthout who reported that:

Industry advocates have spent years lobbying Congress for a bill which would completely legalize industrial hemp and remove it from Drug Enforcement Agency oversight and interference. Though deeply flawed in its current form, there's hope that the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, currently making its way through Congress, could be an important step in that direction.

Although the Farm Bill of 2014 allowed the cultivation of hemp to resume for the first time since the early 1900s, the bill was very narrow in that it only legalized the growth of industrial hemp for purposes of research and development and only in states that regulated the crop. Currently, there is little clarity on what is considered to be Farm Bill compliant, in part due to the bill’s conflicts with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Furthermore, the bill is set to sunset in 2018 and there is no guarantee that the new bill will include the same provisions that narrowly allow for the cultivation of hemp. If passed, the recently proposed Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017 would make these issues moot.

Under the proposed Act, industrial hemp would be specifically excluded from the definition of marihuana under the CSA. Explicit exclusion of hemp from the CSA would allow cultivators to grow the crop without worrying whether they were completely compliant with the DEA requirements for growing the plant because hemp would then be out of the DEA’s purview. Permitting nation-wide cultivation would allow the U.S. to cash in on the cash crop. Even the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has referred to hemp as an agricultural commodity. A CRS report issued in March of this year estimated that the U.S. spent over $78 million in 2015 importing hemp and hemp products. Given the various goods that hemp can be used to create, cultivation of the crop in the U.S. could prove to be very profitable if the country can just get past the legislative hurdles.


--Taylor Wood

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