On December 12, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the Farm Bill) passed the Senate and is on its way to becoming law once signed by the President. This legislation covers policy and funding for the United States Department of Agriculture (for example, farm subsidies) as well as other programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as Food Stamps).
The Farm Bill is legislation that is reviewed, amended, and approved by congress every 5 years. But this year, the Farm Bill has important implications for dog owners.
As you may already be aware, CBD oil made from hemp is one of the fastest growing sectors in pet health. As more and more owners are discovering the science backed health benefits of this natural supplement, the demand has gone through the roof.
This article will explore how this recent legislation just made it easier for manufacturers of CBD oil made from hemp to get their product to consumers, what this means for dog owners, and how this is likely to affect veterinary research into CBD for dogs, cats, and other domesticated pets.
Although hemp is a special variety of the family of plants known as cannabis, there are important differences to be aware of. Hemp contains less than .3% of THC, the psychoactive element found in marijuana that causes the “high” that users of this plant experience. Hemp, as a result, does NOT cause a high.
Despite that fact, hemp has been the subject of restrictive legislation that has made it difficult to grow, research, refine, and develop into commercial products. For years, the association between hemp and other forms of cannabis has been a barrier to the reintroduction of hemp to U.S. agriculture. The history of hemp prohibition reveals a sordid past with powerful interests shaping agricultural policy in their favor.
Hemp was actually widely grown in the United States as an excellent source of fiber for a wide variety of textiles until the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act levied heavy taxes and severe restrictions on the cultivation and sale of all forms of cannabis, including hemp.
It was no accident that hemp was not excluded from the bill. Industry leaders with large holdings in timber and the emerging plastics markets of the time were invested in artificially dampening the hemp trade in order to increase their own market shares.
Additional cannabis prohibition laws, including the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. have made CBD oil a bit of a legal quagmire thanks to unclear, and in some cases, conflicting federal guidelines on hemp. Untangling hemp from its psychoactive cousin has been a legal struggle for at least the last decade.
Significant in roads to the legalization of hemp were made with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which established state pilot programs who, for the first time since the 1930’s, could legally grow hemp. In fact, many CBD oil companies really got going only after the 2014 Farm Bill opened some doors for the legal sale of cannabidiol. However, states were left to their own in terms of determining the legality of hemp and its products. The 2018 Farm Bill has changed that situation.
The 2018 Farm Bill and CBD
The 2018 Farm Bill explicitly makes it legal to cultivate, sell, and refine hemp. Although, not unlike regulation for crops such as tobacco, it is still necessary to be licensed by a state or federal agency to grow this crop.
It is also now completely legal in every single state of the United States to possess CBD oil made from hemp and to carry it across state lines. For example, Alabama, who previously had one of the most aggressive policies against CBD sales in their state, has publicly stated the supplement is now legal, as long as the product was made from legally grown hemp.
What Does this Mean for Our Pets?
The obvious win for pet owners is that they can rest assured that no matter what state they are living or traveling in, their pet’s health supplement is not going to cause any legal problems. And, with the legal restrictions now off the table, pet boutiques are sure to be more comfortable offering legal CBD oil products made with pets in mind on their shelves.
Another benefit is that the new legal status of hemp now makes it much easier to research the health benefits of this plant. This is particularly true in veterinary medicine which has been slow to do direct research on the benefits of CBD for our dogs in large part because of legal grey area. (We will keep you up to date on the latest developments in veterinary research on CBD to be sure!)
It is also great news for veterinarians, many of whom faced potential legal battles just to be able to recommend CBD oil to their furry patients in need. In some cases, as recently happened in California, veterinarian advocates had to actually pass legislation to protect themselves from prosecution – just for doing right by their patients!
For the most part, the 2018 Farm Bill is great news for dog owners looking to buy this natural health supplement for their pet, or who would like to discuss its many benefits with their veterinarian. However, there is one potential downside to be informed about.
With demand already higher than supply, CBD oil supplements for people have shown to be a market sector full of fraudulent and mislabeled products. Enough so that the FDA has had to step in and issue warning letters as well as public statements that buyers need to be aware of the fact that the quality of all CBD products is not the same.
In fact, some samples tested contained zero CBD at all! Expect the situation to get worse now that there are even fewer restrictions on CBD products.
Before you buy, make sure you are dealing with a trusted manufacturer. We here at LolaHemp would like to throw our hat in the ring.
Our CBD oil tinctures are made specifically for dogs from organic hemp. AND, we aren’t afraid to show independent lab testing to prove it. Not just for our first batch, but for every single batch of CBD oil for dogs that we sell.
Hemp Legislation in the United States
1760’s: George Washington imports hemp from India and begins cultivating it on his farm. He is soon followed by other famous contemporaries including Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and James Madison.
Antebellum Period: Hemp has become a major crop in the south, prized for its use in textiles such as rope, canvas, and paper.
1937: Marijuana Tax Act passed placing significant taxes and restrictions on all forms of cannabis. Within a few years the entire hemp industry was decimated.
1970: Nixon administration passes the Controlled Substances Act, making all cannabis plants illegal to grow or possess. The measure failed to distinguish between hemp and psychoactive strains of marijuana.
2014: Farm Bill of 2014 establishes the legal growing of hemp under voluntary state programs with significant restrictions on its cultivation and distribution.
June 2018: FDA approves the first CBD oil based pharmaceutical drug Epidiolex®.
December 2018: Farm Bill of 2014 makes hemp legal under federal law, although growers must still be licensed. CBD Oil made from hemp becomes federally legal to produce, possess, and transport across the U.S.