Farm Bill 2024: What You Need to Know
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Farm Bill 2024: What You Need to Know

This amendment, if passed into law, would redefine hemp and close loopholes that currently sustain a large portion of the cannabinoid hemp market, including the THCA seed market.

By Sophia Schivone

The cannabis industry is buzzing with reactions following a significant amendment to the 2024 Farm Bill. This amendment, if passed into law, would redefine hemp and close loopholes that currently sustain a large portion of the cannabinoid hemp market, including the THCA seed market.

What’s Changing?

The amendment, proposed by Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), aims to redefine hemp to include only non-intoxicating cannabinoids derived naturally from the Cannabis sativa L. plant. Specifically, it would include components and derivatives of the plant that contain less than 0.3% total THC, including THCA, on a dry-weight basis. This change would make it illegal to sell products containing intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids like delta-8 THC. Additionally, it would significantly hinder the ability of seed companies, breeders, and cannabis flower producers to sell their products across state lines. Learn more about delta-8 here and what is THCa vs THC here.

Industry Reactions

Unsurprisingly, the industry has responded strongly to this proposal. During a markup hearing on May 23, the House Agriculture Committee approved this amendment as part of an en bloc package of several amendments to the draft 2024 Farm Bill. Jonathan Havens, a partner at national law firm Saul Ewing, notes that this approval by the committee is significant, but it’s not a done deal. The amendment’s journey through the legislative process is far from over, with many steps remaining before it can become law.

Diverse Opinions on Regulation

Opinions within the industry are varied. Some argue that intoxicating cannabinoids need regulation to ensure consumer safety, particularly to prevent sales to minors. Others believe that even non-intoxicating cannabinoid products should be regulated. Matthew Savolskis, founder and CEO of Accipiter Consulting, expressed strong disapproval of the amendment, emphasizing that hemp should remain an industrial product and that proper regulation is necessary for consumer safety.

Peter Grinspoon, M.D., a cannabis specialist, highlights the dangers of unregulated hemp-derived products, which often lack proper safety standards and accurate labeling. He stresses the need for regulatory oversight to protect consumers from potential contamination and false claims about product benefits.

Economic Impact

The potential economic impact of this amendment is considerable. Businesses that have legally operated under the current regulations could face significant disruption. Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) opposed the amendment, arguing that it would unjustly penalize businesses that have developed under the framework of the 2018 Farm Bill. He emphasized the need for Congress to find a balanced approach that doesn’t destroy livelihoods while ensuring product safety.

What’s Next?

The 2024 Farm Bill remains uncertain. While some experts believe the chances of the bill passing this year are low, others argue that it’s too early to make definitive predictions. Even if the House approves the bill with the amendment, it must still pass through the Senate, and any differences between the House and Senate versions would need to be resolved.

The debate over this amendment highlights the broader issues within national cannabis laws. Industry leaders argue for a more comprehensive and consistent regulatory framework that treats all cannabis products—whether derived from hemp or marijuana—equally. This, they argue, would help ensure safety, fairness, and rational public health policies.

As this legislative process unfolds, stakeholders from across the cannabis and hemp industries will be closely monitoring developments and advocating for regulations that protect both consumer safety and industry viability. Whether you’re a consumer, producer, or retailer, staying informed about these changes is crucial for navigating the evolving landscape of cannabis legislation.

Conclusion

The proposed changes in the 2024 Farm Bill have stirred significant debate within the cannabis industry. While the amendment aims to close loopholes and regulate intoxicating cannabinoids, its broader implications could reshape the industry landscape. As the bill progresses through Congress, staying informed and engaged is vital for all stakeholders.

Stay tuned for more updates and analysis on the evolving cannabis legislation and its impact on our industry.

By Sophia Schivone