Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

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CBD In Canada: Why Can’t I Easily Get Legal CBD In Canada?

In October of 2018, Canada became only the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize recreational cannabis. However, access to legal CBD products remains extremely limited in our northern neighbor.

In October of 2018, Canada joined a very niche club, becoming only the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize recreational cannabis. However, if you thought that meant the streets would be paved in green leaves up north, you would be wrong.

Canada is divided into provinces that, like the states in the U.S., have their own laws and regulations separate from federal rulings. That means that although the Cannabis Act applies to all of Canada, depending on where you live your ability to purchase cannabis may differ. As the law rolled out some infrastructure problems made the transition a little bumpy, with supply chain issues and confusing regulations. When it came to accessing CBD products, in particular, consumers were really confused.

WHAT IS CBD?

If you looked at a cannabis flower or leaf underneath a microscope you would see hundreds of tiny little hairs sprouting up called trichomes. Compounds of cannabis, called cannabinoids are produced and stored on the plant’s trichomes. There are over 100 different cannabinoids including THC and CBD. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound in psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) that makes people feel “high.”

CBD, in contrast, has no psychoactive effect and instead has been embraced for a range of medical and therapeutic uses. Used in the drug Epidiolex, it is prescribed and sold at great cost to treat epilepsy. As interest has grown a huge range of products have come onto the market exploding in popularity, crossing genres from wellness products to skincare, to beverages.

An activist holds a "Cannabis for Canada" sign at a 420 celebration. Despite legalization of recreational cannabis, it's still difficult to obtain legal CBD in Canada.

In October 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”).

IS CBD LEGAL?

This is where things get tricky. CBD has had a complicated journey towards legislation in the U.S. with different states determining it to be either legal or illegal, with the final say often coming down to how it was produced. CBD derived from hemp has generally been considered permissible while CBD from marijuana has not.

With the passing of the Farm Bill, it was thought that all hemp derived CBD would be totally legal but a press release from the FDA threw more confusion into the mix with a warning that CBD cannot be added to foods, that health claims would be rigorously tested, and a suggestion that in the future they would “consider whether there are circumstances in which certain cannabis-derived compounds might be permitted in a food or dietary supplement.”

One of the sticking points seems to be that although there are studies showing CBD can alleviate feelings of social anxiety, and that it reduces inflammation and works as a pain reliever, medical claims made by CBD producers and manufacturers are untested and not regulated federally.

As reported by Ministry of Hemp, in some states CBD products are sold out in the open in major grocery chains and yet in other states, people are still being arrested for selling CBD products.

AN OVERVIEW OF LEGAL CANNABIS IN CANADA

The new official rules in Canada allow members of the public to possess and share up to 30 grams of legally acquired cannabis and grow up to 4 plants per residence for personal use. That provision that the cannabis must be “legally acquired” states that it must come from an approved provincial or territorial retailer. It’s also of note that in the official announcement mentions of CBD products specifically are missing.

The Cannabis Act states that “Other products, such as edible products and concentrates, will be legal for sale approximately one year after the Cannabis Act has come into force and federal regulations for their production have been developed and brought into force.”

It seems that the Canadian government is going with a soft launch focusing on psychoactive cannabis containing THC with plans to address CBD and other cannabis products at a later date.

A photo of an altered Canadian flag flying against a blue sky. The typical maple leaf is replaced with a hemp or cannabis leaf.

After Uruguay, Canada is the second country in the world to legalize recreational use of cannabis. However, legal CBD in Canada remains difficult to come by.

Coupled with this slow rollout is the fact that government officials and lawmakers have not made a distinction between products containing THC and CBD, as Trina Fraser, partner at Brazeau Seller Law, in Ottawa, Ontario explained:

“CBD, in and of itself, falls within the definition of “cannabis” in the federal Cannabis Act.  As such, it is regulated just as all other cannabis products containing THC. Hemp farmers can grow hemp for the purpose of CBD extraction, but the plant must be sold to a federally licensed processor to conduct the CBD extraction, and then the CBD is subject to the same rules as all cannabis extracts.”

CANADIAN CANNABIS LAW CAUSES CONFUSION OVER CBD

Fraser explained that there was a proposal to permit natural health products containing CBD, but it seems the process was stalled and never completed.

As CBD products do not have the same effect as THC consumers believe falsely that they are always legal. “There seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding as to the legal status of CBD,” said Fraser.

“Mary” from Ottawa [name changed to protect from possible prosecution] is one such confused consumer. She uses CBD to control her anxiety and told us that life without it is immeasurably worse. “I really need my CBD products, they help to keep me relaxed and to deal with symptoms of PTSD, but I really don’t understand whether or not I am allowed to legally purchase them. I order offline from a US company and they mail it to me. I have always received it with no problem, but I find I am anxious until I get my package,” she said.

WHAT ARE LICENSED PRODUCERS?

Steven Looi, Director of Origination at White Sheep Corp and an industry expert from Toronto said that “CBD is treated the exact same way that THC is treated, in fact, all cannabinoids receive the same treatment in Canada. CBD is illegal unless it comes from a licensed producer.”

Health Canada claims that to become a licensed producer in Canada applicants must go through a screening process that is the toughest in the world for cannabis producers.

Consumers cannot legally purchase cannabis from any other producer.

“I really need my CBD products, they help to keep me relaxed and to deal with symptoms of PTSD, but I really don’t understand whether or not I am allowed to legally purchase them.” — “Mary,” a Canadian CBD consumer

According to Statistics Canada there are over 100 licensed producers registered in Canada, although there may not be that number currently producing and selling their products.

Only those people with a prescription for medical marijuana can purchase CBD and only through companies authorized by the MMPR — the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. Of those 100 licensed Canadian producers, only 23 have been registered under the MMPR and are able to sell directly to the public. Therefore legally purchasing CBD in Canada, even if you have a prescription, can be very difficult.

CHANGE IS COMING FOR CANADIAN CBD CONSUMERS

Changes are coming soon though in conjunction with ongoing public consultation, slated to be completed by the end of 2019. “All sorts of new product types will enter the legal marketplace and permit the legal sale of many products that are currently only available illegally,” said Fraser.

A vial of CBD oil and the flowery top of a hemp plant sit on a wooden tabletop. Experts expect access to legal CBD in Canada will improve in the coming year.

Experts expect access to legal CBD in Canada will improve in the coming year.

However, although it may seem that all of this uncertainty will be ironed out by years end, purchasing CBD in Canada will still require effort, despite the new laws. Legal CBD products will continue to only be available through authorized retailers and products will carry security features on the packaging like cigarettes and alcohol. There will also be strict limitations in place in terms of the health claims producers can make. Health Canada follows the legislative lead and also makes no distinction between CBD from hemp or marijuana.

Looi pointed out that “For folks going the legal route for a CBD, legalization will give them greater access, and more products. For folks that always sourced their meds in the black market, not a whole lot has changed.”

Once edibles and other cannabis products are legalized Looi said Canadians will have access to some of the same types of products that are currently flooding the American market.

“Canadians will have better access to a proliferation of CBD products. Marketing, storytelling and promotion will encourage many new consumers to purchase products featuring CBD,” he said.

As with any emerging industry, there are certain to be teething problems both in Canada and the United States. Unfortunately for CBD users in Canada, the much longed for legalization has not automatically made CBD accessible for all.

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Green Mountain State: ‘Lenient’ Vermont Hemp Laws Could Fuel New Hemp Boom

Vermont hemp laws make it simple to grow hemp, and business is booming. As one grower told us, “Vermont is a very lenient state to grow hemp in. It’s hemp program is great.”

Vermont’s hemp laws make it simple to grow hemp, and business is booming.

Last month, we visited Luce Farm where we learned about growing hemp in Vermont. Luce Farm’s owner, Joe Pimentel, told us, “Vermont is a very lenient state to grow hemp in. It’s hemp program is great.”

This lead us to want to learn more about Vermont’s hemp program and what makes it so easy for new farmers to join. We did some research and we’ve collected all the information you’ll need to know why Vermont is a great place to grow hemp.

VERMONT HEMP LAWS AMONG THE NATION’S MOST PROGRESSIVE

Since hemp is so closely tied with marijuana, there are some states which just aren’t ready to start harvesting. Take Texas for example. Generally known for its highly conservative politics, it has yet to sign in on the 2014 Farm Bill which made it legal for states to decide if they want to grow hemp or not. The simple reason is the people and politicians of the area are resistant to the idea that hemp can be beneficial for agriculture and the economy.

A densely packed hemp field at Luce Farm. Vermont’s hemp laws are some of the most progressive in the nation. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Paul James)

Luckily, the proposed 2018 Farm Bill could legalize the crop on a federal level which would, inevitably, change the entire nation’s opinion on hemp. States like Vermont, and popular hemp growers like Colorado and Kentucky, have played a big role in this change in attitudes.

Doug Fine, a New Mexico hemp expert, told local reporters from myChamplainValley.com, “The Vermont law simply states, farmers and entrepreneurs in Vermont have access any hemp genetic that meet the federal definition of hemp.”

Vermont only charges $25.00 in annual registration fees to each grower. Fine called this kind of perspective on hemp forward thinking.

Furthermore, registration is very open to new farmers. Authorized by the Vermont Legislature in 2013, there are no limitations in terms of:

  • Amount of acreage
  • Residency requirements
  • How many registrations are available to the public

With this kind of policy, it’s no surprise that hemp’s popularity is expanding rapidly in Vermont. While about 575 acres of hemp were harvested in 2017, agriculture officials expect about 2,000 acres of hemp are being grown in Vermont this year.

In a report for Marijuana Business Daily, Kristen Nichols wrote, “Vermont has the nation’s loosest regulations and latitude that makes it an easy fit for hemp cultivators.”

She continued,  “Vermont hemp growers do not have to participate in a pilot project or a research collaboration with a University or state agriculture authorities — conditions laid out in the 2014 Farm Bill authorizing limited hemp production.”

On July 1st 2018, recreational cannabis became legal in the state of Vermont and, with that, came a new pilot program making it legal to buy and sell hemp under registration of the Agency of Agriculture. This means, as long as they follow state laws, growers and distributors won’t have to worry much about Federal Agencies cracking down.

WHAT AMERICA CAN LEARN FROM VERMONT HEMP LAWS

The most obvious — profit. Politicians and farmers alike see that hemp can be extremely lucrative for Vermont. Competition is already sprawling: neighboring New York state has invested more money into its hemp production. Even so, there’s still more money being made per pound in Vermont than other progressive states.

A massive, tall hemp field with the Vermont mountains behind it. Luce Farm, pictured here, is helping to create a growing hemp boom in the Green Mountain State thanks to Vermont's hemp laws.

Luce Farm, pictured here, is helping to create a growing hemp boom in the Green Mountain State thanks to Vermont’s hemp laws. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Paul James)

To give you an idea, the Marijuana Business Daily reports:

  • In Vermont, growers make about $100 or more per pound of dried flower/bud, around $1 per pound of seed, and 10 cents per pound of stalk.
  • In Colorado, where competition is stronger, growers make about $28 per pound of dried flower/bud, but up to $9 per pound of seed.
  • The best place to grow (financially speaking) is currently Nevada. Growers there make up to $200 per pound of flower, $10 per pound of seed, and 10 cents a stalk.

The above numbers only account for those who grow hemp and immediately sell the plant as is. Many farmers produce hemp products directly from their crops, which is oftenmuch more profitable.

VERMONT LOOKS LIKE THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN HEMP

People who grow their own hemp and create their own products see much more profit off their cultivation. Furthermore, in terms of Vermont, the new pilot program is guaranteed to be more lenient in this regard. Growers can create hemp products without much strict federal regulation.

To any hemp farmer looking to make the most out of the hemp industry, Vermont looks to be the place. Vermont’s tolerant laws and support of growers creating their own merchandise will attract more hemp enthusiasts.

For those interested, here’s a link to Vermont’s Hemp Registration form.

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2018 Farm Bill Could Fully Legalize Industrial Hemp In USA

An amendment to the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill would fully legalize industrial hemp in the United States. If included in the final version, hemp would be out of reach of the DEA and treated like any other crop by the states and Native American tribes.

Update DECEMBER 20, 2018: The Farm Bill became law this afternoon and hemp is legal in the United States again!

Update DECEMBER 12, 2018: The 2018 Farm Bill just passed the U.S. House of Representatives after passing the Senate, including the landmark amendment that will fully legalize industrial hemp at the federal level! The amendment fully removes hemp and derivatives of it from the control of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and opens up massive possibilities for the hemp industry, American agriculture, and health and science to name a few. There was even a partial compromise on the most troubling part of the law, which restricted people with felony convictions from being part of the industry.

Pres. Trump is expected to sign the omnibus bill into law before the year ends, though the timeline is unclear at this time. We’ll have more updates soon!

Update JULY 11, 2018: The current language of the hemp amendment also bans people with felony drug convictions from participating in the hemp industry.

An amendment to the Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill would fully legalize industrial hemp in the United States.

“This is a big day for hemp,” said Brian Furnish, a hemp grower from Kentucky and president of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable.

The amendment legalizing hemp began as a bill proposed by Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate. The “Hemp Farming Act of 2018” fully legalizes industrial hemp and all products made from it including CBD oil. Under the new law, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other government agencies would no longer be able to interfere with hemp.

The 2018 Farm Bill could mark a new beginning for hemp growing in the U.S. if the a legalization amendment makes its way into the final version.

A hemp farmer surveys his crop at sunrise. The 2018 Farm Bill could mark a new beginning for hemp growing in the U.S. if the a legalization amendment makes its way into the final version.

Due to political uncertainty over other parts of the massive Farm Bill, and the lack of hemp related language in the House version of the bill, there are still hurdles ahead before legalization.

2014 vs. 2018: NEW FARM BILL BUILDS ON PARTIAL LEGALIZATION

The United States made industrial hemp illegal for decades until an amendment to the 2014 version of the Farm Bill allowed growing by state-run hemp research programs.

These state-based programs vary, with some allowing only university research and others allowing a limited number of everyday farmers. The U.S. grew about 25,000 acres of hemp under these state programs, mostly in more permissive states like Colorado and Kentucky. However, CBD vendors have faced some legal threats at both the state and federal level. Other government agencies, like the Bureau of Reclamation, have also interfered with growers at times.

HOW THE 2018 FARM BILL WOULD LEGALIZE HEMP

McConnell’s amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill would officially remove hemp from the DEA’s list of controlled substances, ending debate over the legal status of the plant.

All products made from hemp, including CBD oil products, would be explicitly legalized as well, so long as they contain less than .3 percent THC (the substance which makes people “feel high” in psychoactive cannabis). State agriculture departments, along with Native American tribes, would be free to regulate hemp just as they do any other crop like corn or carrots.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR HEMP BUT CONFLICT OVER 2018 FARM BILL

In a historic moment for hemp legalization, the Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill with the hemp amendment included. Members of both parties support hemp in an unusual display of bipartisan agreement. However, since the House version of the Farm Bill does not include the same amendment, hemp’s future is still up in the air.

Before it can appear before the president for his signature, the House and Senate must form a “Conference Committee” to iron out differences between the two versions of the 2018 Farm Bill. Conferees, appointed from both parties, will meet to debate the final version. Hemp advocates hope that, with McConnell’s enthusiastic support, conferees are likely to back hemp.

Still, “there’s always political conflict in Washington,” Furnish warned.

The Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill includes a historic amendment to legalize industrial hemp.

A shot of the U.S. Capitol seen at dusk. The Senate version of the 2018 Farm Bill includes a historic amendment to legalize industrial hemp.

A disagreement over Food Stamps is one possible source of conflict. The House version of the bill includes controversial changes that would reduce the number of people eligible for the program. Disagreement over provisions like these could also put hemp legalization at risk.

Though the hemp industry overall enthusiastically supports the hemp amendment, there are a few dissenting voices. Veronica Carpio, of Grow Hemp Colorado, objects to hemp-only legalization bills which allows some growers to profit off the cannabis plant while growers and users of psychoactive cannabis remain in prison.

“No one goes to prison for hemp charges, but people go to prison and lives are still ruined over marijuana,” she told us, echoing comments she made around a previous, failed hemp legalization bill.

HEMP LEGALIZATION IS CLOSER THAN EVER TO REALITY

The 2018 farm bill is an omnibus piece of legislation which ensures continued funding for numerous agricultural and social programs. Pres. Donald Trump is almost certain to sign it when it finally reaches his desk.

While it’s still possible hemp could become legal through other methods, such as a stand-alone bill, Furnish hopes hemp supporters will speak up in favor of the plant.

“Contact your representatives and tell them to support McConnell’s hemp language,” he said.

One easy way to do so is to complete this form on the U.S. Hemp Roundtable website.

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Hemp Beer Goes Nationwide: New Belgium Launches The Hemperor (VIDEO)

Last month, we got to attend a special tasting of a unique new hemp beer, and talk to part of the team behind its creation. “We finally brought together hemp and hops,” said Steve Navas, brand activation manager for New Belgium, when describing The Hemperor.

Last month, we got to try a unique new hemp beer and talk to part of the team behind it.

“We finally brought together hemp and hops,” said Steve Navas, brand activation manager for New Belgium Brewing.

The private bar in downtown Austin where the tasting took place was filled with the incredible smell of The Hemperor hemp pale ale. As we spoke with Navas, the sounds of local bluegrass band Steel Betty tickled our ears.

Over the past few months, New Belgium has traveled the USA sharing their new hemp beer, The Hemperor.

Over the past few months, New Belgium has traveled the U.S. sharing their new hemp beer, The Hemperor. (New Belgium Brewing)

“We’re one of the first breweries to be able to nationally roll out a beer like this,” Navas told us. “This is two years in the making.”

As for The Hemperor? We thought it was delicious. Here’s how we described this hemp beer in our official Hemperor review:

Wow! Powerful green hemp aroma from this pale ale. The hemp adds a nutty, smooth flavor that balances out the hops, especially in comparison to most IPAs. This beer is sweet with a very mild bitter aftertaste.

You can also feel good about your purchase, because one dollar from every bottle sold goes to support hemp legalization. Keep an eye out for The Hemperor at a store near you.

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Why The Hemp Industry Is Suing The DEA Over CBD Oil | HIA vs. DEA

Hemp businesses and consumers could soon be celebrating the end of the DEA’s attempts to prevent Americans from producing or selling cannabidiol (CBD) extracts, depending on the outcome of a new lawsuit. Dozens of members of Congress have expressed their support for legal CBD oil in a brief filed in the case.

Update 5/17/2018: A court dismissed the Hemp Industries Association lawsuit on a technicality. Check out our HIA vs. DEA update for more on what this means for the hemp industry.

Hemp businesses and consumers could soon be celebrating the end of the DEA’s attempts to prevent Americans from producing or selling cannabidiol (CBD) extracts.

On Dec 14, 2016, the DEA published a new rule establishing a new drug code for “marijuana extracts.” The rule states that extracts from the “genus cannabis” plant containing any cannabinoid “will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances.”

This rule poses a significant challenge to hemp producers and consumers in the U.S. who, up to now, have been legally producing and consuming CBD and hemp oil under the Agricultural Act of 2014.

The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), along with other petitioners, has challenged this rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In addition, a group of lawmakers have declared their support for CBD, filing a document in the case insisting that Congress already made CBD legal, and that it remains legal, thanks to the Agricultural Act.

While consumers continue to freely access CBD oil, the DEA’s rule has cast a shadow over producers and vendors, and this lawsuit could go a long way towards easing their worries.

A hearing date is set for February 15, 2018 in San Francisco, though the case could last for months.

While consumers haven’t faced any reported legal threats so far, some hemp CBD shops in states with relatively strict controlled substance laws have seen their inventory seized by local law enforcement and their operations shut down.

“The industrial hemp industry has seen exponential growth across the United States since the passage of the Farm Bill in 2014, and this case represents the most significant challenge the U.S. hemp industry has seen to date,” Garrett Graff, an attorney for the petitioners, told Ministry of Hemp.

HIA vs. DEA gavel and scales of justice

A gavel with the scales of justice behind it. The HIA vs. DEA case could have long-lasting repercussions for the hemp industry and CBD consumers.

The outcome of this lawsuit could be crucial not just for the hemp industry, but also for the thousands of people who benefit from taking CBD.

WHY THE HIA VS. DEA LAWSUIT MATTERS TO HEMP PRODUCERS & CONSUMERS

The DEA’s long war on industrial hemp dates back decades, but Congress began in earnest to correct this situation about four years ago. The Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the 2014 Farm Bill,) created an exemption from the Controlled Substances Act by defining industrial hemp grown in an authorized research program as separate and distinct from marijuana.

Nevertheless, the DEA obstructed farmers from participating in hemp research programs, prompting a lawsuit from the state of Kentucky in 2014. Because of continued DEA obstruction of the Farm Bill, Congress was forced to pass a rider to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill in September of 2016. This rider provided that no funds may be spent by the federal government interfering in legitimate hemp research.

DOJ headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The headquarters of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The DEA insists the CBD extracts made from hemp are illegal, despite the 2014 Farm Bill which made hemp growing and research legal in the U.S. on a limited basis (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Sebmol, CC-BY-SA license).

Despite these two provisions of law, the DEA continues to assert publicly that CBD derived from hemp is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, sending a chill over potential hemp business investors. The case is important because the DEA’s overbroad treatment of virtually all CBD as a controlled substance has resulted in uncertainty in the blossoming hemp economy.

WHAT THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION GETS WRONG ABOUT CBD & HEMP

The federal Controlled Substance Act creates an exemption for the stalks and seeds of the cannabis plant as legal substances because they only contain traces of THC. Congress, in the 2014 Farm Bill, expanded this exemption of stalks and seeds to include all parts of the industrial hemp plant grown in an authorized research program, only requiring that hemp products contain 0.3 percent THC or less. But the DEA has not acknowledged this fact, as it continues to assert that any CBD extract — even one made from legal industrial hemp — is a controlled substance under federal law.

The petitioners made significant progress in the briefing stage of the case by forcing the DEA to admit that not all cannabinoids are controlled substances under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). The DEA now admits that the source of the CBD determines whether it falls under the CSA. If the source of the CBD is an exempt part of the plant (stalks and seeds), according to the DEA, then the CBD falls outside the CSA and is legal. What the petitioners argue is that the Farm Bill created an additional exemption for Farm Bill-produced hemp, which the DEA’s rule effectively wipes out. An agency cannot rewrite a law in this way, and petitioners seek a court order setting aside the rule on this basis (as well as others).

The DEA attempts to argue, without basis, that the exemption provided by the Farm Bill is a limited exemption only applying to hemp that is being grown or cultivated, and when the hemp leaves the field it magically becomes a controlled substance. This contradicts the plain language of the Farm Bill which protects research hemp “whether growing or not.” It also ignores Congress’s clear intent to grow hemp businesses in interstate commerce through marketing research involving hemp grown in research projects.

28 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR CBD IN HIA VS DEA LAWSUIT

HIA vs. DEA lawsuit could ease worries of hemp farmers

A hemp farmer inspects his crop. The HIA vs. DEA lawsuit aims to end the uncertainty around the legal status of CBD extracts made from industrial hemp.

In fact, the 28 Senators and Representatives who crafted the hemp portion of the Farm Bill emphasize this very point in a recent and potentially very significant “amicus” brief filed in the case in support of the petitioners.

“It is truly remarkable that nearly thirty elected Members of Congress have taken the opportunity to prepare an amicus brief in this matter in support of the Petitioners,” Graff said. “Congress has spoken, yet again.”

These members of Congress assert that CBD and any product derived from Farm Bill hemp is legal, so long as it adheres to only one requirement: that the THC level be 0.3 percent or less as provided in the Farm Bill.

Further, the brief states that “Congress legalized … any commercial marketing of industrial hemp extracts and derivatives, so long as the products fell under the THC threshold level.”

A DAY OF RECKONING FOR THE HEMP INDUSTRY

Hemp industry attorneys representing the petitioners in the case are cautiously optimistic, especially after receiving Congressional support.

Graff told us, “Our clients, the HIA, RMH, and Centuria Foods, are truly humbled by this show of support from Congress concerning this critical matter.”

While consumers continue to freely access CBD oil, the DEA’s rule has cast a shadow over producers and vendors, and this lawsuit could go a long way towards easing their worries.

It would appear that February 15 will be a day of reckoning for the DEA in its quest to defy Congressional intent. Regardless of the outcome of this case, hemp farmers and businesses will continue to push for federal legislation fully legalizing commercial hemp production. But a favorable ruling would bring us much closer to that outcome.

 

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The Right & Wrong Way To Legalize Hemp In Kansas

It is hard to understand how Kansas, a land of beautiful prairies and the nation’s third highest number of agricultural acreage, is one of the last states to end prohibition of industrial hemp. But will farmers be shut out by the new legislation?

It is hard to understand how Kansas, a land of beautiful prairies and the nation’s third highest number of agricultural acreage, is one of the last states to end prohibition of industrial hemp.

Thirty-four states have now passed hemp legislation including New York state.

In fact, Governor Cuomo recently earmarked over $2.6 million for a hemp processing plant and seed certification program, and wants to make New York state a national leader in hemp production.

With China and Korea leading the world in hemp production, Russia now the world’s largest exporter of wheat and other nations increasing grain production, the U.S. is no longer the world’s only agricultural superpower. Hemp provides for over 50,000 products spanning across 10 different industries. My coalition, Kansans for Hemp, has conducted community forums across the state and continues to hear that farmers need the Kansas Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to allow hemp legalization bill HB 2182 to have a hearing, dropping any proposed legislation that leaves farmers out. Research was already conducted at Kansas State University during the 1970s, now it is up to Kansas lawmakers to not “research out the farmers” as some lawmakers have proposed.

WILL FARMERS GROW HEMP IN KANSAS? A TALE OF TWO HEMP BILLS

Given the low prices for wheat, corn and soybeans, Kansas farmers desperately need a more profitable alternative. Because of low prices, farmers have to increase yields per acre to break even or make a small profit. Increased supplies of grain put downward pressure on prices, and we have a vicious economic cycle that farmers cannot escape — unless they have the economic freedom to diversify commodities and grow a more profitable crop.

Hemp Field In Summer

A dense field of green bamboo-like industrial hemp stalks grows tall in the summer sunshine. Industrial hemp can be harvested for thousands of uses.

The people of America’s Heartland know good public policy is made through input from many stakeholders, so when introducing a new commodity offering as much opportunity as hemp does it makes sense why the number of those involved increases. In 2017, two hemp bills were introduced and as with most revenue-generating issues, there are now multiple influences attempting to guide the outcome.

One hemp bill (HB 2209) was introduced which only allows universities the ability to cultivate hemp for research purposes, it never had a hearing. The second bill (HB 2182) is closely modeled after laws in Tennessee and Kentucky. It was passed out of committee and passed the House floor by a vote of 103-18. The house bill was then sent to the Senate Ag committee, however the Chairman (Sen. Kerschen) chose not to deal with it because of how late it was in the session. The state lobbyist and Kansans for Hemp were told there would be a hearing in 2018.

The first day of 2018 session, Chairman Kerschen instead introduced a Senate version of HB 2209, titled SB 263. To be clear, both SB 263/HB 2209 are limited, watered down legislation that is in fact not in compliance with the 2014 Farm Bill, Sec 7606, the landmark federal legislation which re-legalized hemp in the U.S. HB 2209 also cuts out farmers completely as it leaves out crucial details of any licensing administration processes, and excludes other entities like technical and community colleges from doing research.

A source told us that there has been a pledge of money from the representative who introduced the House version, to help with the research (which seems unethical). Chairman Kerschen is ignoring HB 2182, including the 103 votes from the House, and held a two-day hearing on SB 263 which again is not what we have continuously heard that Kansas communities want or need.

KANSAS LAWMAKERS MUST STUDY OTHER STATES’ HEMP LAWS

Kansas needs to look no further than across the western border into Colorado to see there is room for all when it comes to this rapidly expanding industry.

Hemp Harvest

A farmer harvests hemp with a tractor under a cloudy sky. Legal hemp in Kansas must allow for growing by everyday farmers, not just academic institutions.

However, contrary to what some organizations claim additional, exclusive research is not necessary under the 2014 Farm Bill. Pilot programs which are open to farmers (like HB 2182 establishes) are approved under a state’s department of agriculture, and do not require oversight from any other agency, including law enforcement.

By contrast, bills like SB 263 completely take farmers out of the equation which will not only yield inaccurate or non-comprehensive research conclusions, but distrust will come from farmers who will continue to not be allowed to gain crucial experience necessary to understand best methods for propagating, cultivating, and harvesting industrial hemp.

Lawmakers could also look to the restrictive hemp laws in Virginia for an instructive example of what not to do. As reported in January by Marijuana Business Daily, laws in that state make it impossible to profit from hemp growing, and as a result interest in the crop has languished, with just 100 acres grown in 2017.

“We’re way behind the ball,” Virginia farmer Graham Redfern complained to Marijuana Business Daily’s Kristen Nichols.

LEGAL HEMP IN KANSAS OFFERS HOPE FOR FARMERS

With downward trends in markets, our rural and frontier communities need support now more than ever. Hemp is a perfect opportunity where they are willing to collaborate with the state and other entities on something that is new and exciting.

Research and production must be happening simultaneously, because how we move forward as contributing leaders is through both innovation and practical application. Kansans are known for dreaming big, but we cannot allow our own fears or the stories we tell ourselves guide decisions that negatively impact our children and grandchildren’s futures.

In 1863, Kansas was the number one producer in the nation of bushels per acre of industrial hemp. Now is the time to be courageous and give this legacy crop back to Kansas farmers, and help contribute to the nation’s largest developing industry. On February 1, 2018, SB 263 passed out of committee with amendments to the full Senate. It has yet to be determined if farmers will be included in a Kansas industrial hemp program.

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