On December 20, 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, more commonly known as the “Farm Bill,” was signed into law.
The goal of this act, as stated at the very beginning of the act itself, is “to provide for the reform and continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2023, and for other purposes.”
Though this bill discusses many different provisions regarding agriculture—some of which are related to wetland conservation, dairy milk operations and products, crop assistance, and rural energy savings—the one area of the law that received major reform is hemp. This reform is provided under Section 12619, the very last section of the act.
What Section 12619 of the Farm Bill does
Section 12619 is titled “Conforming Changes to Controlled
Substances Act” and it states, in part, that “the term ‘marijuana’ does not include…hemp.” But what exactly does this mean?
“It removed the illegality federally,” explains Derek
Thomas, Vice President of Business Development for Veritas Farms, a full spectrum CBD (cannabidiol) product supplier. “Now it is up to the states to determine legality.”
This is important because, with hemp previously illegal under federal statute, not only did it make it harder for the consumer to obtain products containing this ingredient, but it also made it more difficult for hemp supplement companies to do business.
Even day-to-day banking has been challenging, says Thomas, mainly because of the legalities surrounding the hemp products.
While companies like Veritas Farms don’t necessarily want to
see more governmental regulations, Thomas does state that it would also be helpful if some of the federal agencies did set up some guidelines.
A need for regulation of hemp supplements
“Of course, we don’t want to be overregulated,” says Thomas,
“but there is a strong need to be regulated in this space.” In fact, Thomas says that it’s possible that agencies such as the Food & Drug Administration will still come out with guidelines later this year, providing guidance to hemp supplement companies while also giving consumers peace of mind that they’re buying a quality product.
Right now, the only type of certification that appears to exist is the US Hemp Authority Certification Program. Thomas says that both the US Hemp Roundtable and Hemp Industries Association—the two agencies behind this certification—are reputable in the hemp space, so this is a good start as “whatever comes out of the Roundtable will be appropriate for the industry.”
Yet, Thomas also feels that regulation by the federal government is still preferred as it is “much more impactful” for manufacturers and consumers alike.
One of the areas that Thomas foresees as being a focus of regulation is Certificates of Analysis, or CoAs. These are certificates that detail the ingredients within a particular supplement, providing the consumer more information about the product’s quality and purity. Thomas explains that CoAs are important because they provide transparency to the consumer.
Thomas also hopes that the Farm Bill will instigate lawmakers to require more clarification and continuity of terms used by hemp supplement companies. For instance, “full spectrum hemp oil” may mean one thing to one manufacturer, yet mean something completely different to another.
Having more guidelines will also help “clear up misinformation that some of the nefarious actors are putting out in the marketplace,” says Thomas.
The Farm Bill’s impact on hemp supplement marketing and production
Another area that Thomas is hoping the Farm Bill will change is in relation to the marketing of their products. For instance, hemp product manufacturers have been limited as to the claims they can make about hemp and how it affects health.
With the new legalization, more studies can be conducted in this area, says Thomas, giving hemp companies the opportunity to share this information with the consumer.
From a marketing perspective, Thomas adds that there’s also
hope that the Farm Bill will open more online marketing options. “We’re boxed out of a lot of very powerful marketing mediums,” he says. “We can’t market on Facebook. We can’t do Google AdWords. We can’t even market on Amazon.”
Not only that, there are other marketing mediums—such as
television and radio—that won’t allow advertising of these types of products as well. With the concern over federal illegality now relieved, this may open some new doors.
The Farm Bill should also make it easier for most companies to get hemp for their products, says Thomas.
The future of hemp supplements
Where will hemp supplements be in the future? Thomas says
that one of the things he foresees is that hemp products will become more
available, not just online, but in physical stores too.
“The much larger big box retailers are getting ready to accept us,” he says, citing that this includes national, big-name drug stores, retail stores, and even grocers. “That’s huge for us,” says Thomas, adding that “before you’ve had to go online and buy it or go to a smoke shop or maybe your chiropractor sells one or two products.”
That makes this a real gamechanger for the industry, bringing hemp supplements and other hemp products more into the mainstream.
Additionally, as more and more studies are conducted on all
of the cannabinoids found in hemp, hemp product manufacturers will also likely be better able to come up with products that are suited more specifically to certain health issues. Thomas states that this will be beneficial for humans, as well as for animals.
It’s also possible that regulations about drug testing in
the workplace will be loosened, says Thomas. And with the federal legalization of hemp, Thomas also believes that we’ll see hemp crossing into the cosmetic or skin care space, potentially even making its way into various foods, food supplements, and multivitamins.
Hemp supplements and chiropractic
What changes will the Farm Bill create for chiropractic
specifically? According to Thomas, it may just ease some concerns.
While some have absolutely accepted hemp products, Thomas
says that “more have been a little stand-offish because they’re concerned.”
This new legislation should help ease that concern since it removes the gray area of whether hemp is illegal, also relieving concerns over whether local law enforcement agencies will attempt to take action against your practice because you carry these types of products.
Instead, hemp can be a great addition to chiropractic practices as it is an opportunity for chiropractors to make more money and help their patients feel better at the same time says Thomas, making it “a no-brainer” for health care professionals.