Cannabis researcher Colleen Quinn on the impact of the 2018 Farm Bill in the U.S., which loosens restrictions on hemp usage, on the skincare, wellness and beauty industries, and why securing sustainable, authentic supply chain will become brands' top priority

It’s been an eager 6 months wait since the Senate passed the bill in June but finally, is hemp now legal?

The long-awaited farm bill moved quickly through the House and Senate in early December, and is now ready to be signed into law by the president. Up to now, industrial hemp production in the U.S. has been restricted to mostly research and pilot programs. This bill removes industrial hemp from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, making it a lawful agricultural commodity.

The 2014 farm bill allowed some growers to plant the crop as part of experimental, state-run pilot programs. Under those pilots, 25,000 acres of land has been planted with hemp in 19 states.

However, businesses associated with Hemp faced stringent regulations when importing seeds, and many banks won’t loan to farms or processing facilities that work with hemp and many insurance companies threatened to pull policies.

Arguably the most important and impactful aspect of this Farm Bill is the newfound freedom to carry out research on hemp. It is time to start gaining quantitative data on the power of CBD for our body and skin. How can we more accurately affect the endocannabinoid system and the CB receptors? To what extent is it more anti-inflammatory to our skin than the other plant ingredients we have to add at our hand for decades?

CNBC reports that the hemp industry could grow into a $20 billion industry by 2022. Speculated as a $800 million market today, the majority of this hemp market is attributed to products that include the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol, or commonly known as CBD. Products infused with CBD are used for a wide range of beauty, wellness, pet, nutritional and medical products, with certain medical conditions getting special attention—namely epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, arthritis and chronic pain. However, the laws involving CBD products still differ in each state.`

The influx of CBD-focused beauty, wellness, pet, nutritional and healthcare brands is inescapable. How do you break through the noise and stand above the competition?

As the 2018 farm bill moves through the final stages of the legal process, you the brand owners will face your greatest challenge: supply chain. Going forward as the market demand for hemp and CBD based products grows, securing sustainable, authentic supply chain will become your priority. The rush of farms converting their crops to hemp is inevitable now that the bill is moving forward; however, it is critical to source and work with experienced cultivators when sourcing your hemp supply.

In order to remain legal and gain the security in your supply chain, you need farms who understand the plant, its chemovars, its chemistry and therapeutic benefits—while also serving the need for scientific laboratory evidence. Serious hemp suppliers will need to provide pesticide, contamination, potency and terpene tests. This level of scientific plant data is vital in order to understand the quality of the hemp you are purchasing.

Interestingly, in order to sell CBD products, retailers including the big guys like Barneys New York will have to disclose who grew their hemp, and it also has to be tested to ensure it has less than a 0.3% concentration of THC to guarantee the product will be used for its anti-inflammatory—rather than psychoactive—effects. The big names in retail, from Sephora to Neiman Marcus, are joining the green rush as well offering a wide range of CBS products with a focus on beauty and wellness promoting the anti-inflammatory and anxiety-relief abilities of CBD.

Understanding the material the hemp plant provides to us is essential, in addition to the professional and data supply chain aspects. Understanding full-spectrum hemp oil, the cannabinoids and terpenes it possesses is vital to creating innovative therapeutic formulations that stimulate an anti-inflammatory reaction in the body. Appreciating other terpene-rich plants and creatively blending them to offer a more intelligent product to the market is fundamental in order to rise above the typical brands that will hit the market overnight. We don’t need another CBD coffee, so let us plant intelligence to create products with purpose.

Furthermore, this attractive market growth is drawing investors to the table at speed. Where investors were previously careful of putting their money into hemp due to the legal and social uncertainties surrounding the plant, this farm bill opens up the possibility of greater financial opportunities for them and their brand owners with less risk.

When a market is growing at a rate of 700% annually like hemp is and moving into our mainstream consciousness, there is money to be invested and money to be made. The creators and leaders in the beauty space are set to gain a quicker-to-market speed, with greater financial backing market demanding to be met.

CBD Supply Checklist
● Know the farm and the farmer who grew your plant, ask about growing techniques
● Always use full-spectrum for best therapeutic effects
● Have access to all lab data including terpene analysis
● Have access to contamination and pesticide tests
● Gain an understanding of your farm's capacity to supply your need long term


Establishing smart, data-savvy supply chain married with chemistry-based innovative formulations that hold therapeutic purpose as the nucleus of your products is the intelligent way forward. This is the way to leave the competition behind.

Colleen Quinn is a clinical aromatherapist, formulator & researcher. Committed to delivering functional therapeutic plant-based products, Colleen has traveled the globe on a quest for knowledge innovation and the best quality ingredients from dedicated sustainable farmers in order to create therapeutic benefits in skin and health care. Colleen currently specializes in cannabis research, formulations and sourcing. For guidance on what a trusted hemp supplier looks like to be the right partner for you and your brand, contact Colleen at or reach her at