Innovative State Approaches to Hemp Regulations under the 2018 Farm Bill

By:Ellen Essman, Senior Research Associate Monday, August 31st, 2020

Our newest report for the National Agricultural Law Center examines the different approaches states are taking to regulate hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill.  Innovative State Approaches to Hemp Regulations under the 2018 Farm Bill is available on our website here and on the National Agricultural Law Center website here.  

Over the last few years, the agricultural sector has been buzzing with excitement about the potential of a new crop—industrial hemp.  For years, hemp was increasingly regulated across the country because it was legally classified the same as marijuana, another type of cannabis. 

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act completely illegalized hemp production. This criminalized approach to hemp changed with the 2018 Farm Bill, however, which removed hemp from the definition of “marijuana” and gave states a chance to create their own hemp regulation programs.  Many states seized the opportunity.  As of May 5, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had approved hemp plans from 16 states:  Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. 

In this white paper, we examine the requirements for state hemp programs prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill.  Even within these “requirements,” there is room for states to innovate. We’ll take a look at how they’ve done so as we summarize the unique aspects of state hemp programs that go beyond the USDA’s minimum requirements.  There are many creative approaches that states are taking in regulating hemp production. We will touch on some of these notable approaches and highlight the similarities and differences among the approved state hemp regulatory programs.

The USDA’s National Agriculture Library funded our research on this project, which we conducted in partnership with the National Agricultural Law Center.