The 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report has become law, under the name the Agriculture Improvement Act. This AIA, which received President Trump’s signature on December 20, amends the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants with only a trace amount of THC will no longer be considered a schedule I controlled substance.
What I’d like to do today is to step back and look at the big picture. For this is a moment to savor for advocates of freedom for the cannabis trade. The model by which much recent progress has been won in the United States has been: give up federal legalization as a lost cause, focus on state legalization, and work to limit the federal government’s willingness or even fiscal ability to crack down on those state experiments.
I say much progress has been won on that model. The progress seemed in danger two years ago, though, when the new President appointed a notorious booster of the War on Drugs to the post of Attorney General, and there was some concern that this was the start of a roll-back.
Early in his tenure, in May 2017, A-G Jeff Sessions asked Congressional leaders to repeal the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, but Congress never did. Now, after Sessions’ departure (admittedly for unrelated reasons), with the Democratic Party in charge of at least one branch of Congress, and given that the Food and Drug Administration has approved GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, a CBD isolate, it is safe to say that there was more sound than fury to the backlash against state-level legalization.
It remains important for us to make headway at the federal level, and sect. 10113 of the Agricultural Improvement Act suits the moment. The federal government finally has given some official recognition to the proposition that there is no good reason to prohibit trade in CBD.
This is something more than the usual ebb and flow of politics. What has happened in the United States of late in terms of the public acceptance of cannabis in its various forms and inclusive of its various extracts, is a cultural shift. The new business realities follow in the wake of the cultural shift. New Frontier recently projected that the CBD market in the US could reach revenues of $2.3 billion by 2022. (Half of that will be hemp derived.)
The world has changed and the War-on-Drugs zealots have lost ground they will not recapture.