The Farm Bill - What it Means for the Cannabis Industry.

The Farm Bill - What it Means for the Cannabis Industry.

Posted by Joshua Warihay on Jan 21st 2019

*Before using CBD for any suspected medicinal properties please consult your physician. By no means should cannabinoids be used to supplement any current prescriptions without being told to do so by your doctor.

If you follow politics and work in the cannabis industry you've probably heard plenty of things about the Farm Bill. Although just a small portion of the bill was dedicated to cannabis, allowing the domestic growth of hemp plants, there's been A LOT of buzz about what it all means and if the bill will stimulate the growth of CBD related products.

What is the Farm Bill?

Farm Bills first became a thing during the Great Depression to aid farmers suffering from an excess of crop supply. Because there was little to no regulation prior, this excess of crops during the depression led to food prices plummeting. Farmers were going under quickly and something had to be done. Since the implementation of this type of legislation, many policies have changed but the goal is the same; ensuring farmers have fewer worries and the free market doesn't depreciate the cost or quality of our food beyond a reasonable degree. The Farm Bill also aims to prevent the average working American from being unable to afford sustenance.

What makes this Farm Bill different?

In December the House passed the newest version of the Farm Bill, an omnibus bill that's renewed about every 5 years. The House passed the bill with a vote of 386-47. This $867 BILLION dollar initiative is different because of one key factor... cannabis. States can now grow industrial hemp: before it was up to state law but now the federal government supplies subsidies to farmers, and farmers can now grow hemp legally at the federal level.

The seed has been planted, but will it grow?

Even though this is a major win for users of cannabinoids and hemp products, this may not mean an immediate explosion in more domestically grown hemp than what already occurs. Because state laws in marijuana-friendly states already allow the growth of hemp, the only difference is farmers that receive subsidies for farming other products before the bill can now add hemp to their arsenal of revenue-generating crops. As far as we know current hemp farmers that don't receive subsidies could apply, but relief would not be immediate. It's yet to be seen if domestically grown hemp can be cultivated and mass produced at a cheaper price than what other countries have been doing for decades although the demand for domestically grown hemp products may outweigh any price difference.

Why is hemp so useful?

Hemp is used in making a variety of products. The most relevant in our industry is cannabinoid products, used for theri natural properties. A few other items from a long list of hemp-derived products are paper, dairy-free milk, food products, concrete, fuel, cosmetics, clothing, and so much more. Food products that have hemp are high in Omega-3, Omega-6, fats, protein, and other nutrients. It's really a miraculous plant, having many uses besides the psychoactive effects which landed it as a Schedule I drug. Being able to grow it without worry of breaking federal laws is a huge step in finding even more benefits of the plant. Cannabinoids seem to be the fastest growing market for the hemp plant.

The use of hemp-derived cannabinoids in the medicinal world.

Before you read on, you should know that the only FDA recognized drug that contains CBD is Epidiolex. Epidiolex is used for the treatment of seizures. It's extremely effective and much safer than other pharmaceutical alternatives. There are some widely accepted benefits that CBD offers, but the government only currently recognizes this drug for its ability to treat seizures. CBD is said to have properties that help with:

Pain relief

It's believed cannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain and immune system to reduce inflammation and help with pain. Studies found that cannabinoids helped reduce the inflammation in lab rats exponentially.

Anxiety

A study by the University of Sao Paulo found that CBD reduces anxiety by affecting the limbic and paralimbic brain areas.

Cancer

Early research shows CBD can prevent and fight cancer in a few different ways. It's by no way a miracle drug but these pre-clinical results are just the beginning. CBD has an antitumor effect that prevents and can amplify the death of tumor cells in both colon cancer and leukemia. In addition, research shows CBD can be used to stop the spread of cancer cells in cervical cancer. All of these studies are pre-clinical and only performed on lab rats but it's a promising revelation. Hopefully, with more research, we can apply what we learn towards healing those battling cancer.

Insomnia

While THC is typically the most effective in treating insomnia, CBD may help to allivate lack of sleep in large doses.

Diabetes

Rarely talked about, CBD oil can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Again only studies on lab rats in a pre-clinical trial, most lab rats treated with CBD did not diagnose diabetes. 32% of the mice that received CBD was diagnosed with diabetes while 100% of the untreated group ended up developing diabetes.

CBD, the FDA and the Farm Bill.

The FDA wanted to make clear with the passing of the Farm Bill that their stance on CBD has not changed. Here's what FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D had to say.

"In particular, we continue to be concerned at the number of drug claims being made about products not approved by the FDA that claim to contain CBD or other cannabis-derived compounds. Among other things, the FDA requires a cannabis product (hemp-derived or otherwise) that is marketed with a claim of therapeutic benefit, or with any other disease claim, to be approved by the FDA for its intended use before it may be introduced into interstate commerce. This is the same standard to which we hold any product marketed as a drug for human or animal use. Cannabis and cannabis-derived products claiming in their marketing and promotional materials that they’re intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases (such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders and diabetes) are considered new drugs or new animal drugs and must go through the FDA drug approval process for human or animal use before they are marketed in the U.S. Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law, but also can put patients at risk, as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective."

What it means for CBD.

This statement by the FDA commissioner coupled with the approval of Epidolex could be very concerning. The only FDA approved drug containing CBD is made by a multi-billion dollar company, GW Pharmaceuticals. This could be the beginning of only large corporations being able to sell their cannabis-derived medicines. It's possible a company could patent a CBD related drug, approved by the FDA, that saves lives but would cost much more than needed because they can circumvent the free market by owning all rights to production.

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