I've posted the last few weeks about the massive, but relatively quiet, verbage in the proposed farm bill before Congress.  Well, the President signed the bill into law recently, and now it's legal to grow industrial hemp, albeit for research purposes, in 10 states.  It was a long time coming, and from our research, inevitable. 

  The only states that are allowed to grow and research under the rule are the 10 states that currently have laws legalizing hemp farming: California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

  The Farm Bill represents the first time industrial hemp has been defined by federal law since the plant was banned under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.

  The term “industrial hemp” refers to the commercial qualities of certain varieties of the cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana, these industrial varieties contain only trace amounts of THC. But the Controlled Substances Act banned all cannabis, including industrial hemp.

  While the Farm Bill is a five-year act, which means hemp’s current classification is not permanent (like the Controlled Substances Act), hemp advocates are optimistic that the government will continue to differentiate industrial hemp from marijuana in the future.

  That means the government can pass legislation that is specific to hemp, which could include removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act is currently pending in the House and Senate, and the bill would reclassify the plant permanently.

  Before hemp can be utilized for its full industrial purposes, it does require some additional researching. Much of our knowledge of various hemp strains was lost over the last generation due to faulty record-keeping. Seeds were destroyed or left to rot, and the germplasm was destroyed. Breeding records are gone. Some of the breeds are actually extinct.

  “We need to develop labs,” said hemp advocate Jason Lauve at the 2013 National CannaBusiness Conference and Expo. “We need to pull out the genetic structures of hemp and develop them.”

  The Farm Act allows these states to study the “growth, cultivation and marketing” of hemp. It also allows states to draft their own administrative rules, which means these states can outsource cultivation to local farmers and begin growing as soon as the local rules are accepted. And there is no cap on the amount of hemp that can be grown, or for the size of a research facility.

  In the next post, I'll talk a little about the economic benefits of this landmark Bill.