Dec 13, 2018
The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval Wednesday (368-47) to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, known as the farm bill, which includes historic provisions that explicitly legalize the production of hemp and establish a regulatory framework for the U.S. hemp industry. The legislation, which was approved by the Senate yesterday (87-13), is now headed to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law before the end of the week.
Colorado lawmakers joined members of the hemp industry Thursday for a news conference in Denver to discuss the legislation and what it will mean for Colorado and the nation as a whole. Colorado is a national leader on hemp policy, and it has developed one of the most robust state hemp industries in the country since the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012. The event was hosted by Vicente Sederberg, a national leader on hemp law and policy, in front of its Denver office building.
Speakers at the event included Sen. Kerry Donovan, Rep. Dylan Roberts, Jesse Claeys of New Belgium Brewing, Mark Stevens of Patagonia, Rick Trojan of the Colorado Hemp Industries Association, and Shawn Hauser of Vicente Sederberg.
Statement from Shawn Hauser, chair of the Hemp and Cannabinoids Practice Group at Vicente Sederberg:
"This is a pivotal and long-overdue moment for hemp in America. Following decades of prohibition under outdated drug laws, hemp will finally be treated like other crops and legal for U.S. farmers to grow. This historic legislation holds a lot of promise for our economy, the environment, and future generations.
“What is currently a $700 million industry that is largely reliant on imports from other countries will grow into what is expected to be a $20 billion American industry in the next five years. In addition to providing farmers with a valuable new crop, it will fuel job creation across a variety of different business sectors. There are currently more than 25,000 uses for the hemp plant, and we have only scratched the surface. There is incredible opportunity here.
"This will be a game-changer. We will quickly begin to see farmers transition from small, state-sanctioned research programs to major federally approved agricultural enterprises. Businesses that have for years had to navigate murky laws and constant confusion among regulators and law enforcement officials will now be treated as members of a legitimate industry. As this nascent industry establishes its footing, federal and state authorities should craft regulations that support a robust U.S. hemp marketplace and ensure consumer products are meeting clear standards for safety and quality."