Hemp law reforms were never directly mentioned during the signing ceremony.
“I’ll probably have to deny that someday, but I won’t do that because you worked really, really hard,” Trump said.
Trump called the Farm Bill a “tremendous victory for the American farmer” during a scattershot signing ceremony during which the president boasted about recent bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation, called former FBI Director James Comey a “liar” and attacked Democrats for their objection to his proposed border wall.
Hemp can either be grown as fiber, generally used to make clothing, rope and building materials, or to be harvested for its cannabidiol, or CBD, which is advertised as having broad but often unverified health benefits. Tennessee’s CBD market has exploded in recent years, and CBD oils, lotions and food can now be found for sale in dispensary-like stores throughout the state.
“We expect this change in federal regulation will offer additional opportunities for Tennessee farmers,” Freeman said in an email. “Additionally, Tennessee’s universities will have fewer restrictions and be able to do more research on this plant as an agricultural commodity.”
Tennesseans have been able to farm hemp for five years through a closely monitored government pilot program, and the new law doesn’t change that. William Freeman, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, said anyone who wants to grow hemp is still required to be licensed by the state, but that licensed farmers will now be allowed to take their harvest across state lines. This provides hemp farmers and processors with “new options and increased markets.”
State records show that most licensed hemp farmers are small hobbyists, farming only a few acres, but commercial-scale hemp farming is rising quickly, in part because the industry is recruiting struggling tobacco farmers. This year, as least seven of the state’s top 10 hemp farmers came from tobacco-growing backgrounds.
“I firmly believe our state can be in the top three (for hemp production) if we strategically position ourselves.”
That’s in part what helped push the passage of a 2014 farm bill, which paved the way for states to mandate whether farmers could plant hemp as part of a Department of Agriculture-guided pilot program.
With Americans importing about $600 million worth of hemp annually from places like China and Canada, it makes sense to grow hemp locally, where it seems to thrive.
For decades hemp, a cousin of marijuana containing negligible amounts of the psychoactive chemical THC, has been been regulated by the DEA.
Hemp grows well locally
Butler said the next step is continuing to push for the state’s “agricultural greatness.”
Butler said this spells the start of a “new empowerment” for the American farmer. “One we haven’t seen in a long time.”
Butler envisions hemp as a balm for some suffering rural towns. Its uses include building material, textiles, supplements and many more.
Hemp as economic stimulus
Now, its oversight and jurisdiction will shift to the USDA.
Arguably more important is the fact that hemp farmers can now apply for federal crop insurance, eliminating a huge risk that once came with growing it.