The U.S. hemp industry is expecting business to expand and investors to beckon after Congress on Wednesday passed farm legislation that included a provision to legalize and regulate the plant under the Department of Agriculture.


That could open the industry, which produces therapeutic cannabidiol (CBD), fabric, rope and even ethanol, to a wave of investment.


Cannabidiol has been touted as an elixir that can do everything from cure cancer to tame menstrual cramps, but so far the U.S. Food and Drug administration has only approved a specific formulation of CBD to treat seizures associated with rare forms of epilepsy.

The bill "puts forth a whole-plant definition of hemp including extracts," said Stansbury of the Hemp Industries Association. "We're not just talking stalk or flower. Any product derived from hemp is a legal consumer product."

But for now at least the FDA could stand in the way.

It states that CBD products can't be sold as dietary supplements and that those making medical claims are illegal without its approval. However, the FDA aims its most serious enforcement efforts at products "marketed for serious or life threatening diseases," according to a statement.


Under the bill, CBD products derived from hemp and containing 0.3 percent or less of the high-inducing cannabinoid THC will be considered legitimate.

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