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Will the U.S. Have a Fully Legalized Cannabis Industry Soon?

J is a business journalist and culture writer published in WIRED Innovation Insights, Investing, GuruFocus, CNN, & Technology, among others.


The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill

In 2014, the U.S. Farm Bill made history when it allowed for the cultivation and production of industrial hemp, specifically, Cannabis sativa L, which is one of the three main species of cannabis, alongside indica and ruderalis.

Cannabis remains a controversial plant because it is considered illegal at a federal level. But with the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill, those who believe in the advantages brought by cannabis found an avenue to create and promote products centered on this raw material.

However, the plant's cultivation was only allowed for pure research or through pilot programs that serve as effective experimental trials to gauge the viability of a full-scale launch. Hemp that was used for such purposes was also required to contain less than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the cannabinoid found in marijuana that causes the "high" associated with cannabis consumption.

The bill confused many as it failed to clarify several of its provisions. Not only did the prerequisite of hemp containing 0.3 % or less THC make it more difficult to conduct various research, but the bill also didn’t elaborate on what or how research was meant to be conducted. On top of that, it failed to address the legality of compounds found in hemp, such as cannabidiol (CBD).

As CBD gained massive popularity for its ability to address various illnesses and common symptoms such as anxiety and chronic pain, it has become a thriving sector despite its uncertain legal status. CBD is still illegal on the federal level as marijuana was banned back in 1970 as part of the Controlled Substances Act, with the government including all cannabinoids as well.

Cannabis was deemed a Schedule I substance for supposedly having a high likelihood of abuse as well as an absence of evidence of its medicinal efficacy. As mounting studies continue to show that CBD is a highly capable compound that has been able to treat rare cases of epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, advocates continue to push for clear and widespread legalization of hemp, which would also officially endorse CBD for consumers.

Revised Proposition: The 2018 Farm Bill

Proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the 2018 Farm Bill continued to push for the legalization of industrial hemp, which was a highly valuable commodity for farmers before it was also banned due to its similarities with cannabis. Hemp is a versatile crop used to make fabric, textures, paper, and many other items.

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This proposition legalized CBD; prior to its passage, it had certainly been on the radar for consumers and distributors alike.

The 2018 Farm Bill also addressed something that the 2014 version failed to include, which is allowing for the transport of hemp seeds across state lines. It also included hemp on the list of insurance eligible crops, which protects farmers from crop losses due to natural disasters, for example.

The 2018 Farm Bill opened up wide-scale availability of CBD products, while also making the lives of CBD businesses much easier by providing a full range of access to services such as banks.

On top of that, this also allowed full-scale research efforts on CBD, which could result in the development of various medicines capable of treating serious diseases and disorders. CBD still has major potential in other areas of its medical applications.

Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved CBD-formulated medicine, effectively treats people suffering from Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. However, the price tag of $32,000 a year is something most people will not be able to fork over. Increased competition in a fully legal sector will help produce innovation and more accessible options for those looking to benefit from CBD consumption.

Senator Mitch McConnell has been a longtime supporter of hemp (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0)

Senator Mitch McConnell has been a longtime supporter of hemp (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0)

Growing Sector

CBD has gained a strong reputation for helping people cope with their ailments, and PotNetwork Holdings, Inc. (POTN) owns a wide lineup of products courtesy of subsidiary Diamond CBD to cater to all demographics. Edibles in the form of chewy gummies are a popular means of consumption, while vapes provide a soothing and enjoyable experience.

With CBD advocates pushing for CBD in different forms such as daily supplements, POTN has answered the call with their Meds Biotech lineup, which features pharmaceutically developed capsules to promote well-being and optimum health.

CBD for pets is also growing into a significant segment, and POTN’s Medipets lineup features formulated pet food and products aimed at enhancing their health. CBD is generally considered to be safe for pets. However, very limited research has been conducted on its effects.

Legislation continues to push for further expansion of legal usage of hemp and CBD, and it’s time that CBD’s merits were widely recognized. Removing its association with marijuana will only serve to fuel better and more efficient forms of CBD consumption that can be endorsed by the public.

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