A new farm bill appears to finally be on its way. On Thursday, Nov. 29, agriculture leaders from the United States House of Representatives and Senate announced that despite delays, they had finally reached an agreement in principle.
The most recent farm bill, which passed in 2014, expired on Sept. 30.
The 2018 Farm Bill could have a major impact on one particular crop: hemp, also known as the cannabis plant. That’s because a new era of cannabis regulation is expected to kick in right around the time the new farm bill is approved, according to Yahoo Finance.
One of the major components derived from hemp is cannabidiol, also known as CBD, a cannabis compound that does not produce a high. (The one that does have a psychoactive effect is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.) Though there isn’t a great deal of scientific evidence yet, people already self-medicate with CBD to treat conditions such as anxiety and chronic pain.
As early as mid-December, CBD is expected to be removed from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedule I list of controlled substances. (The decision, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will move CBD to the Schedule 5 list, the lowest-level list which includes small doses of medicines such as codeine.) That’s the same time at which the 2018 Farm Bill could be finalized and passed. Lifting the DEA’s restrictions on CBD could set off a new wave of investment in hemp production.
In fact, CBD is already big business in some states, including California, where online marijuana marketplace Eaze moved into delivering CBD through a spinoff service, Eaze Wellness, in November. In the same month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the nation’s first cannabis-derived drug, Epidiolex, which has high CBD content and is prescribed to treat two types of rare, difficult-to-treat epileptic syndromes most commonly diagnosed in young children ages 3 to 5.