Farm Bill 2023: A Potential Game-Changer for Federal Marijuana Reform and Hemp Regulations

Farm <a href="" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="Posts tagged with Bill">Bill</a> Discussions Entwine Federal <a href="" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="Posts tagged with marijuana">Marijuana</a> Reform and Hemp Industry Regulation

Farm Bill Discussions Entwine Federal Marijuana Reform and Hemp Industry Regulation

Federal lawmakers are facing a complex challenge on their 2023 to-do lists: the renewal of the Farm Bill, a massive
$428 billion legislation that covers a broad spectrum of topics, from nutrition and rural development to
agricultural practices and crop regulations. One crucial aspect of the 2018 Farm Bill, which expires in
September, is its legalization of hemp, setting off a boom in intoxicating hemp-derived like delta-8
THC. Surprisingly, due to federal marijuana prohibition, the American cannabis industry still operates
independently from federal farm programs and the U.S. Department of .

Despite various other competing interests clamoring for attention, a growing movement in Washington DC is urging
Congress to consider marijuana reform during Farm Bill negotiations. Multiple lobbyists and a federal lawmaker who
spoke with MJBizDaily attest to this push. The potential to address marijuana reform within the Farm Bill opens up
exciting possibilities, such as incorporating the SAFE Banking Act, a bipartisan proposal aimed at protecting
financial institutions that work with state-legal cannabis businesses from federal banking ’ punitive

Past attempts to include marijuana reform measures in broader bills have faced resistance and failure. Notably,
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus thwarted efforts to include the SAFE Banking Act in an
omnibus spending bill and the annual defense spending bill in December. McConnell remains vehemently opposed to
packaging marijuana-related with broader legislation, as Capitol Hill observers note. However, when
McConnell signed the Senate’s version of the 2018 Farm Bill into law with a hemp pen, he unknowingly tied himself
to the cannabis industry.

The consequences of that 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production nationwide, have been far-reaching. A
flood of intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoid products now saturates the market, causing concerns among state
regulators and law . Some argue that these products are eluding regulations and causing harm
to users, including minors. Bipartisan worry has led 14 states to outright ban delta-8 products, but the market
continues to adapt, introducing new cannabinoids like THC acetate ester (THC-O).

The situation has become so complex that other federal agencies believe Congress must step in to regulate it. In
late January, the U.S. and Drug Administration declared that it lacks the current authority to regulate CBD,
a massive industry also created by McConnell’s Farm Bill. The FDA acknowledged the need for a new regulatory
framework and expressed its willingness to work with Congress on the matter.

The responsibility for addressing the delta-8 situation, according to some members of Congress and the public,
falls on McConnell’s shoulders. They view the Farm Bill as a fitting platform to rectify the lack of a regulatory
framework for intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids. U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon stressed the urgency of
filling these gaps, recognizing the real problems caused by the lack of clear regulations.

While the Farm Bill presents an opportunity for cannabis regulations, including precise definitions of allowed
novel cannabinoids and their concentrations, clarity remains the primary goal for the hemp industry.
Hemp-derived product companies struggle with labeling and marketing guidelines that may trigger warning letters
from the FDA. Selling products with unproven medical claims poses a significant risk and must be addressed.

Jonathan Coppess, an associate professor at the University of Illinois, recently analyzed Congress’s starting
position on the Farm Bill. While he focused on the politics of federal payments to farmers and low-income
individuals through SNAP, the public’s growing concerns and moral outrage over delta-8 could steer the discussions
towards addressing regulatory issues faced by the hemp industry.

As Farm Bill discussions unfold, the intertwining of federal marijuana reform and hemp industry regulation
presents an opportunity for Congress to address the complexities and posed by intoxicating hemp-derived
cannabinoids. The outcome could significantly shape the future of the cannabis industry at large, with the hope of
finding resolutions for the regulatory gaps and providing clarity on hemp-related issues.


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