Baltimore, MD —Passage of the “game changing” hemp provisions in the Farm Bill of 2018 is expected to go smoothly, according to a panel of attorneys at the Natural Products Hemp & CBD Summit. While it will be a landmark action, some ambiguities will remain because states will still have regulatory authority.

“We’re giving you a lot of optimism here, but it’s still a good idea to contact your congresspeople,” said Jonathan Miller, an attorney with Frost Brown Todd in Lexington, KY, and general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, an advocacy coalition.

Whether the bill passes by the end of September is an open question because of disagreement over something completely different — the work requirement currently attached to SNAP benefits.

“I cross the country praising (Kentucky Sen.) Mitch McConnell,” who is shepherding the hemp bill through, said Miller, an avowed liberal and one-time Democratic candidate for the governor’s seat. “McConnell has been extraordinary. He went from Darth Vader to My Hemp Hero. McConnell is very clued in to this. He's going to be on top of it."

The Hemp Business Journal, a trade publishing and research company, reports hemp-derived CBD grew to $190 million in sales in 2017. The U.S. hemp industry will reach $1 billion this year -- including hemp-derived CBD, food, personal care and industrial products, according to HBJ.

Once hemp and CBD are removed from the Controlled Substances Act, banking will become less restrictive and places like Facebook and Twitter that currently ban advertising of the products will start to allow it, Miller predicted.

“It won’t be immediate, but the floodgates will come eventually,” Miller said.

Courtney Moran, an attorney with EARTH Law, in Portland, OR, said the bill gives overall regularity authority to the USDA, but allows states and tribal organizations to establish policy. She recommended developing solid relationships with state Departments of Agriculture and the Farm Bureau.

Ashish Talati, a partner with Amin Talati & Upadhye in Chicago, said mass retailers are watching closely.

The clarifying definition is what’s very significant, Moran said. The bill takes away the word “industrial” from hemp and adds cannabinoid-derived extracts below 0.3% THC, which removes any doubt that CBD products are included.

However, that doesn’t mean local law enforcement will understand. Much education is still required, she added.