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Battle of the Bills

Nation-wide legalization of hemp made its way through the Senate on June 13, 2018 when the Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill 86-11. The Senate version would in effect remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and authorize the growth of industrial hemp as an agricultural crop. Hemp, derivatives of hemp, and hemp extracts would no longer be within the scope of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s control, and the plant would be treated as an agricultural commodity.

The Senate has spoken, and we like what it has said. However, the same cannot be said for the House. The House has invoked silence; further, the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill does not even mention hemp.

The Senate and the House must unify the differences between the Bills, and the clock is ticking. The 2014 Farm Bill is set to expire September 30, 2018 and both the House and Senate have passed motions to continue with a conference committee of House-Senate negotiators. The House is represented by 47 conferees, while the Senate only 9 conferees. The conferees from both chambers will be required to come to an agreement regarding which parts of each bill should comprise the 2018 Farm Bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a key player in the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, stated he is hopeful a resolution will be reached by Labor Day. Should the House and Senate come to an agreement, a Conference Report reflecting the agreement will go back to both chambers to be finalized. Once final passage is achieved by both the House and Senate, the Bill’s next stop is President Trump’s desk to be signed.

Should the two chambers of Congress fail to reach an agreement before the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill, one of two things could happen: (1) The 2014 Farm Bill could be extended; or (2) The 2014 Farm Bill could no longer be in effect. The difference between the two outcomes could be detrimental to farmers currently growing hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Knowing the laws and what they mean are critical for hemp industry operators. Familiarity with local, state, and federal law is crucial to success. At Cantafio & Song PLLC, our goal is to ensure 100% compliance for clients on both the state and federal level. Our team stays on top of the often daily changes in the laws regarding industrial hemp, and we come up with federal risk mitigation plans for our clients to minimize the impact of federal interference with hemp operations. If you have questions about hemp laws, or need assistance with your operation, reach out to our team today.

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