The Agricultural Adjustment Act (The Farm Bill)
The Agricultural Adjustment Act, or the Farm Bill, was first signed into law in 1933 under Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Farm Bill was initially passed during the Great Depression to raise the prices of crops by allowing farmers to receive monetary assistance when agreeing to reduce the production of certain crops.1 As the years go on, the Farm Bill solely focused on price control; however, in 1973, the bill incorporated other areas of focus. These areas included conservation, energy, food assistance programs, and stakeholders.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the word ‘hemp’ was introduced and higher education institutions and state agriculture departments were allowed to grow the plant, so long as they followed the rules. Hemp is defined as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”2 Growing hemp became more accessible when the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized the production of hemp for more than just educational purposes, and the Drug Enforcement Administration removed hemp and its seeds from the controlled substances list.3 Additionally, the bill allowed for hemp farmers and their crops to be protected under the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. However, this did not give free reign to farmers to grow hemp.
Hemp growers must be licensed to grow hemp under a hemp program, whether it be a state, tribal, or USDA program.3 Each program has their own set of requirements and types of subprograms that hemp growers can participate in. For example, Maryland has the Maryland Hemp Farming Program and the Maryland Hemp Research Pilot Program. The Hemp Farming Program is for commercial hemp growing while the Hemp Research Pilot Program is for partnering with an institute to grow industrial hemp under a research program.4 It is up to the grower to determine which program best fits their needs and intent within the hemp industry.
Benefits of Hemp Oil
Hemp is a versatile plant that can be used not only for research purposes, but for mental and physical health as well. The seeds from hemp can be harvested and either cold pressed or dried, depending on the desired use. If the seeds are cold pressed, the oil pressed out can be used to make hemp oil. Hemp oil contains large amounts of healthy fats, including omega-6 and omega-3, and can be used to promote heart and brain health.5 It is important to note that hemp oil can be marketed as two different types: full spectrum or broad spectrum.
Full spectrum hemp oil includes tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, as well as other compounds of the plant such as cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. Broad spectrum hemp oil does not contain any amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but still contains other cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, CBN, etc.), terpenes, and flavonoids. While these compounds may be found in trace amounts, they still affect one’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) through a mechanism called the entourage effect. The endocannabinoid system is a complex system made up of receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes that play a role in regulating functions in one’s body. All the compounds found in hemp interact with each other to produce therapeutic effects including pain relief and the reduction of inflammation.5
Importance of Accreditation in the Hemp Industry
In 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule that requires all hemp to be tested by a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registered laboratory.6 A DEA registered laboratory is not required to be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 but the agency strongly recommends that testing laboratories meet the requirements of the international standard. ISO/IEC 17025:2017 assures that consistency, competency, repeatability, and reliability meet certain levels of quality to promote confidence in all parties involved. This is accomplished by ensuring that competent personnel are performing impartial work to provide consistent operation of the laboratory. The current industry lacks standardization which makes it difficult for consumers to trust the market, but accreditation can help combat that uncertainty.
The three main goals of ISO/IEC 17025:2017 are met through documentation and record-keeping. Competency is documented through procedures as well as records for training of personnel. Laboratories must have a documented procedure that includes competency requirements, selection of personnel, training of personnel, supervision of personnel, authorization of personnel, and monitoring competence of personnel. Additionally, management must be committed to impartiality by identifying risks on an ongoing basis. If a risk is identified, the laboratory must demonstrate how it eliminates or minimizes the risk.
Consistent operation of laboratories is not covered by one section of ISO/IEC 17025:2017, but multiple sections included method verifications and overall management system. Method verifications is the provision of objective evidence that a given item fulfills a set of requirements: you have the equipment, but can you meet your target measurements (i.e., matrix applicability, limit of detection, precision)? The standard requires laboratories to use an appropriate method and statistical analysis of data, procedures to be readily available for personnel, and records of verification must be retained.
Laboratories must evaluate their management system to ensure it conforms to their own requirements as well as the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2017. This is met by performing management reviews and internal audits, both of which are conducted on a schedule that is established by the laboratory. Management reviews are used to evaluate how the laboratory is continuing suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness of their management system. Internal audits are used to ensure the management system conforms to its own requirements, requirements of the standard, and the management system is effectively implemented and maintained. Both allow opportunities for improvements and risks to be identified, which ultimately ensure consistency of laboratory operations.
1 Devarenne, S. (n.d.). Story Map Cascade. www.loc.gov. https://www.loc.gov/ghe/cascade/index.html?appid=1821e70c01de48ae899a7ff708d6ad8b&bookmark=What%20is%20the%20Farm%20Bil
2 U.S.C. Title 7 – AGRICULTURE. (n.d.). https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCODE-2015-title7/html/USCODE-2015-title7-chap88-subchapVII-sec5940.htm#:~:text=(2)%20Industrial%20hemp,on%20a%20dry%20weight%20basis
3 Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program. (2019, October 31). Federal Register. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/10/31/2019-23749/establishment-of-a-domestic-hemp-production-program
4 Maryland Hemp Program. (n.d.). Maryland.gov Enterprise Agency Template. https://mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/Pages/Industrial-Hemp.aspx
5 WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2020, November 4). Hemp Oil: Is It Good for You? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/hemp-oil-good-for-you
6 Hemp Production | Agricultural Marketing Service. (n.d.). https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/hemp