Draft Farm Bill amendment puts hemp industry at risk

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Image of a hemp field

(Photo by Rick Lohre/stock.adobe.com)

Image of Cynthia Cabrera
Cynthia Cabrera (Courtesy photo)

(This is a contributed guest column. To be considered as an MJBizDaily guest columnist, please submit your request here.)

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, individual states have taken the lead on regulating the industrial hemp market and hemp-derived consumer products in lieu of a regulatory framework.

At the forefront of the hemp industry, Texas has been regulating hemp products since 2019, including full-panel testing for all consumable cannabinoids as well as licensing and labeling requirements. Certificates of analysis are also required to be available to every consumer.

In that time, the United States has established one of the strongest industries in the world for CBD and hemp-derived cannabinoids – and one of the safest for consumers.

Hemp regulations

The overwhelming majority of hemp operators support regulation and transparency, including:

  • Developing products with established good manufacturing practices.
  • Testing protocols to ensure raw materials and finished products conform to specifications and are unaltered.
  • Labeling information that is accurate, truthful and provides full disclosure about the contents of each product.
  • Age restrictions and verifications, plus child-resistant packaging

Farm Bill amendment

Despite years of regulatory progress at the state level, widespread national consumer adoption and growing acceptance of hemp-derived products, overreaching politicians in Washington, D.C., are threatening to dismantle one of the nation’s few growth industries – one built by small businesses and American hemp farmers.

An industry-paralyzing amendment introduced in May by U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois is now part of the draft Farm Bill submitted by the House of Representatives.

The inclusion of the amendment came without a roll-call vote or insights from industry leaders, mom-and-pop retailers or consumers who use these products to improve their everyday lives.

Demand for hemp products

Millions of American adults have come to rely on CBD and hemp-derived cannabinoids for countless reasons, including wellness, lifestyle choices and alleviating other concerns.

Veterans have been using hemp products in increasing numbers to reduce dependency on opioids and to treat issues such as chronic pain, traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

On the economic front, the hemp market has morphed into a multibillion-dollar U.S. industry, employing tens of thousands of workers while providing a boost to small businesses in dozens of states.

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Reject Farm Bill amendment

The Mary Miller Amendment should be eliminated from the Farm Bill so that states can continue to decide what’s best for their hemp-related businesses and residents.

In the past month or so, numerous states including Florida, Illinois and Louisiana have addressed hemp concerns and considered legislation – and, in each case, the states did not invoke outright bans.

The Mary Miller Amendment would prohibit almost 95% of all ingestible hemp products currently in the market.

In doing so, the amendment would take away consumer choice while helping to prop up unregulated operators and their untested products.

Encourage your federal lawmakers to reject the Mary Miller Amendment and keep the hemp industry flourishing.

Cynthia Cabrera is chief strategy officer at Austin, Texas-based Hometown Hero and a founding board member of the Texas Hemp Business Council. She can be reached at cynthia@hometownhero.com.