MJBiz - March/April 2024 - 40

Marijuana
Masquerade
Depending on when Congress
passes the next Farm Bill-and
exactly what's in it-the ground
could shift under Bernuth's
business and the hemp-derived
cannabinoid sector yet again.
The problem is, nobody knows
when that might be-nor what will
come next.
" Overall, the federal government
is quite unpredictable, " said
Michelle Bodian, the New Yorkbased
co-chair of the Vicente law
firm's Hemp and Cannabinoids
Department as well as the Hemp
Beverage Alliance's general
counsel.
" The longer things drag out, the
more opportunity there is for issues
to come to the forefront, " she added.
" It's obviously hard to predict where
those issues are going to land-in
hemp's favor or against. "
WHAT'S INSIDE
One of the biggest and most
complex measures that Congress
produces, the Farm Bill is an $867
billion behemoth that covers corn
subsidies, food stamps, conservation
projects and, now, CBD, delta-8
THC and delta-9 THC extracted
from hemp.
In theory, Congress must renew
the Farm Bill every five years, when
the spending allowances run out.
The 2018 Farm Bill's provisions
started running out at the end of
September 2023, when Congress
gave itself the first in a series of
extensions.
Promises that a draft Farm Bill
would soon emerge followed the
first extension, but as of early
February, there was still no draft bill
and no timeline for when proposals
would appear.
Put another way: It remains an
open question whether the 118th
Congress will pass a Farm Bill in
2024 at all. If and when a new Farm
Bill passes, it's also unclear whether
The U.S. Food and
Drug Administration
says farmers must
test hemp for THC
content within
30 days of harvest.
Photo by stock.adobe.com/
Postmodern Studio
lawmakers will choose to wrestle
with the hemp-derived cannabinoid
market they accidentally unleased.
DON'T BET THE FARM
Neither the U.S. Senate agriculture
committee, chaired by Michigan
Democrat Debbie Stabenow
and Arkansas Republican John
Boozman, nor their colleagues
in the House Committee
on Agriculture, chaired by
Pennsylvania Republican
Rep. Glenn " GT " Thompson,
responded to MJBizMagazine's
requests for comment.
In January, Thompson expressed
hope that he'd be able to draft a bill
and pass it through his committee
in March, an optimistic timeline
that hemp lobbyists considered
unrealistic at press time.
Some influential lawmakers,
such as Oklahoma Republican
Rep. Frank Lucas, believed to be the
only " active farmer " in Congress, say
that Congress will absolutely pass a
Farm Bill in 2024-and that it won't
be a major departure from the 2018
version.
That is what the American
Trade Association of Cannabis and
Hemp is banking on, said Chris
Lindsey, the group's director of state
advocacy and public policy.
" This is more about clarifying
what Congress did than it is
about going in and changing
the laws and creating some new
regulatory framework, " Lindsey told
MJBizMagazine.
40 March-April 2024 | MJBizMagazine
But with Congress still fumbling
basic tasks such as a long-term
federal budget, other observers are
planning for 2024 to turn into 2025
with no new Farm Bill in sight.
" I wouldn't say I'm confident (for
a 2024 passage). I'm hopeful, " said
Jonathan Miller, co-founder and
general counsel for the U.S. Hemp
Roundtable, which lobbies federal
lawmakers and counts among its
members prominent cannabis
companies including Cronos Group
and Curaleaf Holdings.
Miller believes the best
window to pass a Farm Bill is the
lame-duck session between the
November 2024 general election
and January 2025, when the next
Congress-and, potentially, next
president-is inaugurated. That
tiny window could, of course, slam
shut depending on the election's
outcome.
Regardless of when, there's
" no consensus " for what federal
lawmakers want to do, Miller said.
WISH LIST TIME
Most industry observers believe that
Congress will seriously consider
redefining what qualifies as " hemp. "
A legal definition rather than a
botanical one, hemp currently refers
to cannabis sativa plants with
0.3% THC or less by dry weight. There
appears to be support for raising the
THC limit to 1%-a proposition that
appeared in stand-alone legislation
proposed in 2022 by U.S. Rep. Chellie
Pingree of Maine.
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MJBiz - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBiz - March/April 2024

MJBiz - March/April 2024 - Cover1
MJBiz - March/April 2024 - Cover2
MJBiz - March/April 2024 - 3
MJBiz - March/April 2024 - 4
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MJBiz - March/April 2024 - Cover3
MJBiz - March/April 2024 - Cover4
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