Implications of Making CBD Federally Legal in the U.S.

Last December, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 passed, federally legalizing hemp-derived CBD in the U.S. The new law now considers hemp a crop that will be managed under the Department of Agriculture, rather than an illegal substance needing to be managed by the Justice Department. Although marijuana is still illegal, this opens the door for the economic and medicinal benefits of CBD to become widely available.

This momentous change in federal law is expected to have many implications throughout the country, including relaxing all the laws that previously created obstacles for the hemp industry.

The reclassification of hemp as a crop will now allow:

  • Banks and credit card companies to provide services to the hemp industry
  • Investment into both oil and fibrous hemp businesses
  • The interstate commerce of hemp
  • Hemp farmers to buy crop insurance
  • The pharmaceutical industry to conduct hemp research

These changes will have an impact on both the state of the economy as well as the healthcare system in the country. For many years, CBD has been used behind closed doors, with the financial dealings of the product untaxed because it was illegal. Now, we will see how the freshly legal product helps the economy and state of healthcare in our country.

Economic Effect of Legalization

CBD lacks the psychoactive qualities of marijuana, and although it’s technically been illegal on a federal basis up until now, it’s been on a moral middle ground for a long time. The Drug Enforcement Administration has had a relaxed approach towards CBD due to the organization’s inability to regulate all parts of the cannabis plant because of the laws surrounding its various uses.

In 2017, the lax laws surrounding CBD allowed the industry to sell around $350 million in products, and the industry is expected to sell over $1 billion worth of products by 2020. Now that hemp is federally legal, the plant will go through the proper processes that will likely increase jobs in the industry, ensure it is taxed, and make it easier to regulate across the country.

Some sources expect that by 2022, the CBD industry will be worth upwards of $22 billion. Between consumer packaged goods and pharmaceutical industry investments, several categories and brands are expected to expand, new innovative products will likely come into play, and clinical trials with regulatory environments are likely to contribute to the impact as well.

Healthcare Implications of CBD

In healthcare, CBD is already being used for a large variety of purposes, including for dietary purposes and providing therapeutic benefits. For people with achy muscles and joints, dry skin, or rashes, topical CBD oil can be used to soothe and treat these areas. For a long time, CBD has also been used to treat chronic pain.

The use of CBD in pain management has been explored for years for conditions that do not respond well to other forms of medication. Just last year, the Federal Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, an oral CBD solution that could be used to help treat serious epileptic seizures. The use of CBD for this has long been in demand after doctors and patients discovered the impact CBD could have in treating this type of illness; however, it remained illegal until now due to its association with marijuana.

Although the use of CBD is often a viable option for treatment under many circumstances and for various conditions, the lack of research and stigma associated to this alternative medicine has prevented patients from taking advantage of it as a treatment option.

Now that the drug has been federally legalized, practitioners are better able to recommend this as a potential treatment option for patients who could benefit from it. In conjunction with adequate care from healthcare professionals, CBD can be used as a preventative care option for many issues.

According to an article by Duquesne University, “Though trends bring promise of exciting change, change isn’t always embraced.” In the future, trends in healthcare will more likely reflect practitioners partnering with their patients and their families to make an effort to understand and respect their cultural beliefs, individual needs, values, and preferences for treatment.

Although it’s still too early to know what the exact economic and healthcare implications of federally legal CBD will be, the door of opportunity in that area is now open. People who have been waiting to explore CBD as a career are now better able to plan for their future, and researchers who have wanted to explore the potential health benefits of CBD can now conduct their research properly. People will no longer have to jump through legal hoops to use CBD. As federal laws adjust with the times, we’re likely to see more benefits come from these changes.

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Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and wilderness enthusiast. When she's not writing, she can usually be found zipping around the mountains on her ATV.

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