Ministry of Hemp

Ministry of Hemp

America's leading advocate for hemp

Tag: War on Drugs

Hemp By Mail: Recent Court Rulings Enable Mailing Industrial Hemp

Recent court rulings make it clear that it’s fully legal to send hemp by mail. We spoke with Courtney Moran of EARTH Law, LLCabout her court battles over shipping hemp.

Recent court rulings make it clear that it’s fully legal to send hemp by mail.

History has been made in recent weeks. With industrial hemp becoming federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, new rules and regulations surrounding the industry will begin to appear. Another important change? New rulings from the Judicial Officer and the Federal Court for the U.S. Postal Service now allow shipments of industrial hemp — specifically, hemp-derived CBD derived products — through USPS.

Courtney N. Moran, founding principal of EARTH Law, LLC, has vigorously fought multiple battles for these rights. Still, as can be expected, there remain problems and misunderstandings about legal hemp. And Moran will have to continue her battle until these issues are fully solved.

Point of view photo of a person mailing a cardboard box hands it off to a worker. Although there may continue to be court challenges, recent court rulings clearly establish a solid precedent making it legal to send hemp by mail.

Although there may continue to be court challenges, recent court rulings clearly establish a solid precedent making it legal to send hemp by mail.

We recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Moran in which we sought to learn more about these battles, their resolutions, and what people can expect when attempting to ship hemp in the future.

THE LEGAL BATTLE OVER SENDING HEMP BY MAIL

After Moran received complaints from clients entailing how their hemp products weren’t being shipped to their respected destinations, she filed multiple cases. The goal of these cases was to establish a federal judicial precedent which:

  • Defines laws surrounding transportation of industrial hemp.
  • Clarifies the intent of Congress.
  • Halts misinformation and misinterpretations by the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Cases like the recent “KaB, LLC v. USPS” established these necessary precedents. In this case, USPS seized a package of CBD derived from a hemp agriculture pilot program with the excuse, “the parcel [was] emitting an odor of a controlled substance.”

When this case was brought to court, the question arose whether or not “CBD grown or cultivated from industrial hemp pursuant to a pilot program established by Congress under the Agriculture Act of 2014 is nonmailable as a Schedule I controlled substance.”

Moran’s argument was that the hemp was grown in compliance with an agricultural pilot program established under the 2014 Farm Bill. This hemp is exempt from control under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Therefore, the hemp is not a controlled substance and is allowed to be mailed.

There was a lot of legal back and forth. For though it’s confirmed legal to ship hemp in accordance with agriculture programs, there remains much confusion in postal service policy. At the end of the day, the entire country hasn’t woken up from decades of hemp prohibition. Solving this confusion ultimately lies in separating hemp from psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”).

A WIN FOR THE INDUSTRY

Ultimately, the court agreed with Moran’s argument about sending hemp by mail. She won a great leap forward for this industry with this important ruling. Here’s how she described her success:

“I’ve covered 16 cases with the Postal Service,” Moran explained. “All of them had been decided in our favor. And all of those folks either received their packages back already or they’ve gone on their way to be received from the recipient.”

Most recently, on December 11th, Moran won another case which added a new twist to this story. Up until that point, most of the cases she fought for were in regards to hemp-products or hemp-derived CBD. However, this particular case was focused around hemp seeds.

A pair of cupped hands holds a handful of hemp seeds. One of Courtney Moran's most recent court cases protected the right to send hemp seeds by mail.

One of Courtney Moran’s most recent court cases protected the right to send hemp seeds by mail.

Moran added:

“That’s what’s really thrilling about these cases. For the very first time, [we] have a judge upholding the intent of Congress versus the guidance that was put out by federal agencies and clearly reiterating agricultural hemp is exempted and not scheduled.”

PROBLEMS TO CONTINUE

Still, even though these cases establish a precedent for sending hemp by mail,  people shouldn’t expect all problems with the postal service to simply vanish. As mentioned, there’s still plenty of confusion in the public’s perspective. Until more people understand hemp’s legal status and its difference from psychoactive cannabis, cases such as these will continue to appear.

“The US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has law enforcement authority and capability,” Moran tells us. And the truth of the matter is, there are still plenty of people trying to ship illegal marijuana and hemp through the postal service.

With that in mind, Moran informs, “Only this agricultural pilot program hemp is lawful. So, let’s say somebody grew industrial hemp domestically but was not part of a pilot program and did not have their proper registration or license through their state’s authorizing agency — that would not be legal and not be compliant.”

And even for those who are legally growing and shipping it, the problems stem from those who continue to abuse the U.S. Postal Service in an illegal manner. Moran says that people attempting to send illegal products through the mail are causing harm to the people trying to do it right.

YOUR RIGHT TO SHIP HEMP IS DEFENDABLE IN COURT

Luckily, the postal service is developing a standard operating procedure which gives people the authority to legally ship hemp in advance. The goal is to prevent continuous court cases over hemp.

A USPS mail truck parked by the side of the road. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill and Courtney Moran's recent legal victories, the law will protect your right to send hemp by mail.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill and Courtney Moran’s recent legal victories, the law will protect your right to send hemp by mail.

Furthermore, with the legalization of hemp just hitting the entire country, new rules and regulations are bound to arise. Just as with psychoactive cannabis legalization in various states, lawmakers are still figuring out how to make this all work. Back in July, California saw a complete shelving of CBD products due to new cannabis labeling regulations. This same uncertainty is almost certain to hit the hemp industry.

However, with people such as Moran defending hemp farmers and distributor alike, we can trust the fight for these rules and regulations will go in the right direction. In terms of this recent win, she proclaimed:

“We’re not intimidated and really look to the letter of the law. And made a very clear determination based on what the letter of the law says and the intent of Congress.”

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Marc Grignon: Hemp Can Help Sustain Native Americans

When you begin to look into the fight for hemp legalization, you start to unearth stories you weren’t expecting to find. That’s exactly what happened when we talked with Marc Grignon and learned about the 2015 police raid on the Menominee hemp fields.

When you begin to look into the fight for hemp legalization, you start to unearth stories you weren’t expecting to find. That’s exactly what happened when we talked with Marc Grignon and learned about the 2015 police raid on the Menominee hemp fields.

Currently, Grignon is the spokesman for Hempstead Project Heart, which raises awareness about the benefits of hemp for everyone including tribal communities. Previously, he worked as  staff assistant for the Office of Native American Affairs under Obama’s Small Business Administration.

Grignon developed a passion for hemp as his tribe’s casino ambitions failed. For years now, the Menominee have been fighting for a way out of dependence on government assistance. For a way to provide their reservation with a sufficient income.

Grignon is one of the 8,700 members of the Menominee tribe of Wisconsin. Their history is believed to span back 10,000 years where they dominated 10 million acres of modern-day Wisconsin and the upper half of Michigan state.

John Trudell, wearing sunglasses, smiles at the camera. Hemp activist John Trudell co-founded Hempstead Project Heart with musician Willie Nelson, before passing leadership of the organization to Marc Grignon in his final days.

Hemp activist John Trudell co-founded Hempstead Project Heart with musician Willie Nelson, before passing leadership of the organization to Marc Grignon in his final days. (Photo: Tara Trudell, used with permission)

Despite the dramatic circumstances of the raid, Marc Grignon remains a steadfast advocate of hemp. We caught up with him recently to learn about how he got involved with hemp and how he believes hemp can help support Native American tribes.

OVER TIME, TRIBAL ATTITUDES TOWARD HEMP HAVE SOFTENED

It was during Grignon’s final semester at college when he began to look into his tribe’s background — studying the language and digging deep into their culture. As he went about this research, a piece of information “fell into my lap,” he told us.

The Menominee have a word called “Shaeqnap” and it means wild hemp. The definition talked about a plant that could grow anywhere from 5 to 8 feet high. The tribe used it for fiber, basket making, bowstrings, and so on and so forth.

Grignon was so fascinated by the discovery, he brought it to the Menominee Language and Culture Commission. They were less enthusiastic about his discovery. When he asked about shaeqnap, they simply insisted, “No. We never used cannabis.”

This was a bit of a blow to Grignon as he’s been a long-time hemp advocate. His goal has been to use the plant to provide the Menominee people with a stable source of income. Though not everyone agreed with this idea, Grignon held a determination which would prove to be worthwhile.

And over time, he said attitudes are shifting. “With the evidence we’ve brought to light, more Menominee cultural people see our future in hemp.”

PLANTING THE SEEDS: HOW MARC GRIGNON GREW HEMP WITH THE MENOMINEE

In the summer of 2015, Grignon was working on an Agricultural and Research Project through the College of Menominee Nation and his tribe. One particular day, a former legislature approached him and asked if he’d be interested in working with hemp. Since the Menominee had just passed a law allowing for the reservation to grow industrial hemp for the sake of research, Grignon was very interested.

Part of the reason for this law was due to the fact the Menominees were trying to get the legal paperwork to start a casino. They fought for twenty years only to have Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s governor at the time, kill the idea.

Grignon saw hemp as holding the possibility of being a “natural economic drive.” He recalled:

“So, I was brought on. We planted on July 7th, 2015. 3 acres. I was kind of in charge of monitoring the plants and taking care of them. I was on weed control and I’d go into the fields and pull them out by hand with other Menominees. That’s how I got into the whole thing.”

MENOMINEE HEMP FACED CONSTANT THREATS FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT

The Menominees took all legal precaution prior in order to make this happen. They informed law enforcement of their laws and the fact that they had plans to grow that cultivation season. However, upon hearing this, the feds felt the need to come out and see the fields.

“There were some strong words between the attorney and my tribal leaders,” Grignon remembers.

“The feds were like, ‘we want you to uproot this stuff.’ And we said, ‘No, man. We abided by our government to government relations where we told you we were gonna do it, we passed the law, we had our community’s input on this law, nobody has an issue with it, and now we’re gonna move forward with it.’”

A densely packed hemp field grows tall under a partly cloudy sky, a forest in the background of the field. Marc Grignon helped legalize hemp in Wisconsin after police raided a Menominee hemp field in 2015.

Marc Grignon helped legalize hemp in Wisconsin after police raided a Menominee hemp field in October 2015. (Photo: Marc Grignon)

Which is just what Grignon did. Nearly three months went by. He and the Menominees continued tending their 3 acres of hemp. Throughout this time, law enforcement sustained their efforts to stop the tribe from cultivating these crops.

OCTOBER 23, 2015: POLICE RAID MENOMINEE HEMP FIELDS

In fact, the tribe had a strong suspicion that they would be raided. Even though they followed all rules and regulations, Grignon says, “It’s a real cluster-fuck when it comes to federal Indian policy and federal Indian laws.”

On October 23rd, just when everything was in full bloom, Grignon drove to the fields to find police dressed in camo, fully armed with automatic weapons. He stood and watched as a bulldozer destroyed all his hard work.

Not only was this a giant blow to the operation, but it was an even bigger blow for the next season’s grow. For those plants contained the seeds the Menominees hoped to plant the following year.

Though Grignon was deeply upset, he wasn’t discouraged. In fact, in the months prior — when the Menominees were anticipating the raid — Grignon had reached out to an activist that would not only change his life but hemp’s future in the state of Wisconsin.

MARC GRIGNON’S HEMP ADVOCACY CONTINUES AFTER MENOMINEE HEMP RAID

This certain someone was John Trudell, a Native American author and political activist. Grignon reached out to Trudell in hopes of saving his 2015 harvest. Less than two weeks after feds destroyed it, he received a call from Hempstead Project Heart in which they wanted to carry out an education campaign.

When Trudell found out about the feds destroying the Menominee’s fields, he was very upset.

“He wanted to set up a legal defense fund and do whatever in his power to help us,” Grignon said. “And we took his help. But two weeks later, his cancer spread and he was taken into hospice.”

Grignon had gotten a phone call explaining this and how Trudell wanted to hire him onto Hempstead Project. Being that Trudell had been an idol of Grignon for most of his life, he felt the need to meet the man. Purely for the sake of discovering what the future held for both hemp and Native American culture.

“I flew out there and met him and he basically told me my reputation was on the line,” Grignon explains.

“When we talk about how screwed Indian country is and how dependent we are on the government, I look at hemp and I see a solution.”

“[He said] if I couldn’t get hemp legal in Wisconsin within a year then I wasn’t the person I say I am … everyone will tell you he’s the most intense individual you’ll ever speak to. And they’re absolutely correct.”

Trudell’s perspective on hemp was that “it couldn’t save us, but it could help us.”

Grignon admits he wasn’t able to make Trudell’s wish come true alone nor within a year. However, with the help of a coalition, he made hemp legal in Wisconsin.

CAN HEMP HELP BRING PROSPERITY TO INDIAN COUNTRY?

During Grignon’s time as a staff assistant for the Obama administratio, he saw many real problems he hopes to solve with hemp. This was during one of the previous times the government didn’t sustain proper funding and, in turn, partially shut down for a period of time.

Grignon saw how this affected Native American tribes who weren’t making big bucks off casinos. He knew those tribes depended on government grants. Not only does Grignon not agree with this, but it frightens him to think the Menominees can lose the ability to finance themselves whenever the government shuts down.

Grignon sees hemp as a way for the Menominees to financially sustain themselves. As a source of sustainable profit which may just bring the tribe back to their original roots.

“When we talk about how screwed Indian country is and how dependent we are on the government, I look at hemp and I see a solution.”

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UPDATE: Drug Charges Against Nebraska CBD Shop Owners Dropped

Last week, police raided a Nebraska CBD shop and arrested the owners. Now co-owners Heather Beguin and her son Dreyson Beguin face felony charges. Despite hemp’s recent legalization, police inside CBD is a “controlled substance.”

Update JANUARY 14, 2019: The state dropped all criminal charges against the Beguins. Charges were dropped “without prejudice,” meaning the state could choose to reintroduce them again at a later date. 

“We are thankful the development,” said attorney Maren Chaloupka in an emailed statement. Chaloupka, from the Scottsbluff-based firm Chaloupka, Holyoke, Snyder, Chaloupka & Longoria, represented the Beguin’s in the case, thanks to the financial assistance of CBD vendors Medterra. Chaloupka told us:

“The Beguins want to provide a homeopathic alternative that is drug-free, to help customers avoid addictive pharmaceuticals. We hope that the Nebraska Legislature will clarify that products that don’t contain THC and don’t get the user high are not illegal, and that the small businesses offering those products are not criminals.”

Update DECEMBER 26, 2018: A second Nebraska CBD shop, located in Bellevue, Nebraska, just south of Omaha, is now under threat from authorities. Though the American Shaman store operated without issue for the past 3 months, police gave owners 2 weeks to close down or face legal action. We’ll continue to update this article as this situation develops.

Last week, police raided a Nebraska CBD shop and arrested the owners.

KB Natural Alternatives, a CBD store in the small city of Scottsbluff, was only open for a day when about a dozen officers arrived to shut them down, according to owners Heather Beguin and her son Dreyson. Now, the pair face felony drug charges. Police accuse them of possessing a controlled substance with the intent to sell it to the public.

The arrests occurred just days before the December 20, 2018 passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which fully removed hemp and all hemp-derived substances like CBD from the Controlled Substances Act.

The Beguins’ store sold products by Medterra, a well-known CBD company that creates products from legal industrial hemp. Medterra’s products are rigorously tested to show that they don’t contain illegal amounts of THC, the active ingredient in psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) which makes people feel high.

In an email, Medterra leadership told us they’re standing by the Beguins and will cover the pair’s legal expenses.

“As a company, Medterra stands behind the legality of our products and our partners right to sell it,” wrote Jay Hartenbach, Medterra’s CEO. “The CBD industry is one of compassion and we fully intend to support our partners as they help us raise awareness to those in need.”

Dreyson and Heather Beguin pose in front of their Scottsbluff, Nebraska CBD shop. Dreyson and his mother Heather Beguin, co-owners of a Nebraska CBD shop, now face felony charges. Police claim that CBD is a "controlled substance."

Dreyson (left) and his mother Heather Beguin, co-owners of a Nebraska CBD shop, previously faced felony charges. Police claimed that CBD is a “controlled substance.” (Photo credit: Beguin family)

Despite this welcome assistance, the Beguins are still struggling with the emotional, physical, financial and legal consequences of their arrests.

“I know and believe in what we’re doing, but this has set me and my body back after I worked so hard to recover,” said a distraught-sounding Heather, when we spoke by phone.

SHOP OWNER DISCOVERED CBD AFTER CAR WRECK

Heather discovered the benefits of CBD in the painful aftermath of a July 2018 car accident. As a recovering opiate addict, she wanted to avoid using the pain medication doctors prescribed after the wreck.

“I wasn’t really thrilled about putting [opiates] back into my body because of the risk that maybe I still like that feeling.”

Trying to “tough it out” through the pain only slowed her healing, however. Dreyson, who was living in Florida at the time, suggested CBD.

“If you can’t rest, you can’t heal,” she recalled Dreyson telling her. After she found that topical CBD helped ease her lingering pain and inflammation, she wanted to find a way to share CBD with others. Soon, Dreyson moved back home to Scottsbluff to help her open KB Natural Alternatives.

NEBRASKA CBD SHOP ARRESTS HIGHLIGHT COMPLEXITIES OF US HEMP LAWS

Scottsbluff is a city of about 15,000 people, about 450 miles west of Omaha. At the same time as police were handcuffing the Beguins in Nebraska, people were freely smoking legal recreational cannabis just over two hours away in Colorado without fear of legal reprisal. In Austin, Texas, where this reporter lives, you can buy similar CBD oil supplements at Whole Foods’ flagship store.

This isn’t the first time that police launched a crackdown on a local CBD business selling otherwise legal products. During the summer of 2017, state police raided 57 stores selling CBD products in Indiana. In March of this year, Indiana passed a new state law clarifying that CBD oil supplements are legal.

 “I just hope our public officials learn from the other states that hemp is clearly different from marijuana.”

The timing of the Nebraska CBD shop arrests makes the severe treatment faced by the Beguins even more shocking. On December 13, a full week before the President signed the Farm Bill, the Alabama state Attorney General announced they would back down from threats to prosecute CBD vendors. Today, Michigan legislators passed a pair of bills supporting hemp, one of which clearly affirms the legality of CBD oil products.

In an interview with local news, Gunhee Park, an Omaha hemp entrepreneur, called the arrests “sad” and suggested Nebraska police and politicians should follow other states’ examples.

“I just hope our public officials learn from the other states that hemp is clearly different from marijuana,” Park told KETV anchor David Earl.

(Ministry of Hemp launched in 2014 with the help of Park’s Libertas Ventures LLC.)

Photo shows the roof and part of the light bar on a police cruiser, against a blurry urban background. Medterra CBD offered legal and financial assistance to Nebraska CBD shop owners Heather and Dreyson Beguin after their arrest. A friend also created a crowdfunding site to support the family.

Medterra CBD offered legal and financial assistance to Nebraska CBD shop owners Heather and Dreyson Beguin after their arrest. A friend also created a crowdfunding site to support the family.

POLICE RAID LEAVES NEBRASKA CBD SHOP OWNERS TRAUMATIZED

The Beguins knew opening KB Natural Alternatives posed a legal risk, but neither expected police to respond with arrests or felony charges. Heather said she even knows of people in Scottsbluff selling CBD online.

Before opening, Heather and Dreyson visited the local police chief. The pair brought along a sample of Medterra’s CBD products and lab tests proving that Medterra is free from illegal THC. Though the chief insisted CBD is illegal in Nebraska, he refused when Heather offered to leave the products behind. Now, the pair are facing felony charges for possessing the same supplements.

KB Natural Alternatives opened on December 13. The following afternoon, police arrived in force, arresting both owners. Police even detained and interrogated Heather’s friend that was visiting the shop. Officers refused to show the Beguin’s a search warrant, then spent hours coming through the shop.

Heather was bonded out of jail after just a few hours, because her mother and Heather’s youngest son unexpectedly dropped by the store to find police there instead of Heather and Dreyson. The younger son had a “bad feeling” that led them to check on his mother.

“We’re a very connected family,” Heather said. “We’re very close.”

The family couldn’t afford to do the same for Dreyson, so he spent the weekend in jail. He wasn’t released until late afternoon on Monday.

Dreyson and Heather were clearly shaken by their experience. Both sounded near tears at various points during our phone conversation. Though Dreyson said spending the weekend in jail was hard, he sounded more upset about seeing his mother arrested.

Even after just one day of business, other Scottsbluff residents worry about losing access to CBD.

“I have customers calling me crying, texting me,” Heather said.

MEDTERRA OFFERS LEGAL ASSISTANCE TO NEBRASKA CBD SHOP OWNERS

We interviewed Heather and Dreyson Beguin on Wednesday, December 19. By Thursday, Medterra had been in touch to offer their support.

“We started this company to create products that help our friends and family, Medterra cofounder J.P. Larsen told us. “Our core value of helping people will always be our number one priority.”

Hartenbach told us he was helping the Beguin family find an attorney, and that Medterra would cover their attorney fees. Larsen seemed confident that they would win the case. Both legal precedent and the newly passed Farm Bill are on their side.

“We feel way more confident now, just the humiliation is taking a toll.”

“The Beguins took every step possible to ensure that they were selling Federally-compliant and quality CBD products,” Larsen wrote. “We hope that this case, such as many others, will be dismissed once the proper facts are conveyed.”

Reached today by Facebook messenger, Heather said she feels relieved.

“We feel way more confident now, just the humiliation is taking a toll.”

WILL NEBRASKA EMBRACE A HEMPY FUTURE, OR REMAIN STUCK IN THE PAST?

Nebraska officials seem unmoved by the landmark hemp legalization signed into law this week, at least according to Suzanne Gage, spokesperson for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson.

“Unless amended by the Nebraska Legislature, all CBD products in Nebraska are still illegal under the Nebraska Uniformed Controlled Substance Act,” Gage told KETV. “The recently passed Farm Bill did not alter existing Nebraska law on this issue at this point in time.”

Statements like these make Gunhee Park afraid that his state is going to miss out on a billion dollar industry, along with hemp’s numerous other benefits.

“For our state to so staunchly say no, especially being an agricultural state, is confounding.”

Although Medterra is stepping up to support the Beguins, they’ll still have numerous additional expenses to deal with in the aftermath of their arrests and the closure of their business.

A close friend, Melinda Walsh, established a GoFundMe fundraiser to support Heather and Dreyson Beguin. Ministry of Hemp donated, and we encourage our readers and others in the hemp industry to help out if they can.

Both Heather and Dreyson will return to court later this month for preliminary court hearings. We’ll continue to update this story as it develops.

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Legal Hemp In The USA: What The 2018 Farm Bill Means For US Hemp & Agriculture

Just signed into law today by Pres. Donald Trump, the 2018 Farm Bill completely removes hemp and anything made from hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Here’s our first look at what this means for the future of American hemp growing.

The United States just legalized hemp.

Pres. Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, better known as the 2018 Farm Bill, earlier today. This omnibus bill includes numerous programs and policy changes, not all of which are related to agriculture. For hemp supporters and industry professionals, it’s a cause for celebration. Hemp is now out of reach of the Drug Enforcement Administration and, with a few notable exceptions, closer to being treated like any other crop.

“It’s been a long time coming and a lot of people have put a lot of effort in to get [legal hemp] to happen,” said Courtney Moran, founding principle of Earth Law, LLC, a firm that specializes in hemp law.

Spearheaded this year by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the hemp legalization amendment was inspired by previous efforts from Rep. James Comer, and decades of advocacy work by hemp supporters nationwide. Legalizing hemp had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Legislators softened the most problematic clause in the amendment, which bans some people with felony drug convictions from participating in the hemp industry, during negotiations between the two chambers.

One remaining uncertainty is CBD oil, the massively popular healing supplement made from hemp. Now out of reach of the DEA, negotiations with the Food & Drug Administration over the supplement’s legality could be complex.

A hand holds a hemp leaf up against the backdrop of a partly cloudy blue sky. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the return of legal hemp in the U.S. could bring massive benefits to the budding hemp industry, to everyday people, and to the planet.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the return of legal hemp in the U.S. could bring massive benefits to the
budding hemp industry, to everyday people, and to the planet.

“We’re feeling terrific but the battle is not over,” said Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, an industry advocacy organization. “We’ve got state laws that we need to deal with, we’ve got the FDA issues looming.”

Legalizing hemp in the U.S. marks a major change for American agriculture itself. We expect to cover numerous aspects of this law in the coming days, but this article offers an overview of the major changes and what we can expect next from legal hemp in the United States.

INDUSTRIAL HEMP REMOVED FROM CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT

Hemp in all its forms — whether used as food, medicine, or textile — represents one of the first crops domesticated by humans. Then, the war on drugs brought about negative associations with psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) that spilled over onto hemp, marijuana’s close cousin. The result was decades of prohibition in the U.S., broken only for a brief period of hemp growing during World War II.

The 2018 Farm Bill completely removes hemp and anything made from hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

In 2014, Pres. Barack Obama signed a previous version of the Farm Bill which partially legalized hemp under state-based research programs. In 2017, 19 states grew a total of 25,713 acres of hemp in the U.S. However, laws vary greatly even among hemp growing states. Most hemp is still imported, while a gray cloud of legal uncertainty hung over the industry due to ongoing policies tying hemp to federal drug prohibition.

Until now, the Drug Enforcement Administration argued that industrial hemp is essentially identical to psychoactive cannabis, and therefore a “Schedule I substance” under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances face the strictest penalties for use and are considered to have no benefit to humanity, despite the numerous benefits of all forms of cannabis.

The 2018 Farm Bill completely removes hemp and anything made from hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.

“They have no right or authorization to ever be involved in this again,” Miller told us.

Advocates hope this will improve numerous policies that hurt the industry. Some vendors, especially those selling CBD oil, face legal threats. Hemp businesses routinely struggle to access banking, advertising, and other services. Ari Sherman, president of Evo Hemp, a leading vendor of U.S.-grown hemp foods, expressed his frustration with the status quo.

“We’re the only product in the grocery store that can’t be advertised,” said Sherman.

Attitudes are already changing. Even before being signed into law, the 2018 Farm Bill inspired the Alabama state attorney general to back off from plans to prosecute CBD stores.

LEGAL HEMP NOW UNDER USDA CONTROL

Regulation of hemp will now fall under the USDA, which will set national policies for the crop.

The Farm Bill does allow states to set more restrictive regulations, including banning hemp growing. It also protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow, or not grow, hemp on their lands. However, neither tribes nor states can interfere with interstate commerce surrounding hemp.

“People have been afraid that if they ship [hemp] from Colorado to Washington, what are they going to do in Idaho?” Miller said. Under the new law, “Idaho will still have to let it come through.”

The sun rises over a huge, densely packed hemp field. The 2018 Farm Bill protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow hemp, and prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products.

The 2018 Farm Bill protects the rights of Native American tribes to grow hemp, and prevents states from interfering with interstate commerce of hemp and hemp products.

The definition of industrial hemp will remain unchanged from the 2014 Farm Bill. Only cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC will qualify as legal industrial hemp. THC, the main cannabinoid in psychoactive cannabis which makes people “feel high,” occurs in all forms of the plant but in very low levels in industrial hemp. Under current regulations, farmers must destroy destroy the entire harvest if their hemp tests at 0.4 percent or higher.

“As a Kentucky hemp farmer and processor, it is very important to me this law has passed; Kentucky farmers, and farmers across the entire U.S. will now have the ability to grow this versatile crop.” said Brian Furnish, Director of Farming & Global Production at Ananda Hemp in Cynthiana, Kentucky, Sen. McConnell’s home state.

Though the Farm Bill is now law, legalizing hemp won’t happen overnight. Until the Department of Agriculture finalizes its hemp policies, the rules of the 2014 Farm Bill will continue to officially apply.

“We hope [the USDA] look to the guidance of well-developed pilot programs, in particular Oregon and also Colorado and Kentucky,” Moran said. “Look to their guidance and [don’t] make it overly restrictive as the goal is to really open up access to farmers throughout the United States.”

LEGAL HEMP INDUSTRY STILL FACES ‘TRAGICALLY UNFAIR’ FELONY BAN

The most controversial part of the hemp legalization amendment to the Farm Bill was a clause which banned people with felony drug convictions from participating in the industry.

The legal hemp amendment originally passed by the Senate banned anyone with a felony drug conviction from participating in the hemp industry. People like Veronica Carpio, who has been a Colorado hemp grower since 2014 but also has a past psychoactive cannabis conviction, could have been forced out of an industry they helped to create.

Ministry of Hemp was one of the first media outlets to report on this hemp felony ban. Carpio told us that attention from reporters, and subsequent pressure from parts of the hemp industry, resulted in an important change to the new law. Moran told us Sen. Ron Wyden was a strong advocate for a compromise. But the felony ban remains in a modified form.

“I think it’s tragically unfair,” Carpio told us. “I’m fairly devastated over it actually.”

Under the compromise, now incorporated into the final law, the felony ban exempts anyone already growing under a 2014 Farm Bill-compliant state hemp program. Additionally, anyone whose conviction took place more than 10 years ago may grow hemp.

“Why should I, and others that were under the 2014 Farm Bill, why are we getting exceptions?”

Carpio is grateful that her business is not likely to face any interruption, but she still condemned what she sees as an unfair restriction on hemp, which makes it unlike any other crop. She’s also concerned that the ban will disproportionately affect black people, and other marginalized groups, who tend to be arrested for drug crimes more often.

“Why should I, and others that were under the 2014 Farm Bill, why are we getting exceptions?” she asked.

“I know I should be happier about [the compromise] but I’m not, it should have been removed completely.”

In addition, she suggested this clause and others in the bill could create unnecessary government surveillance and monitoring of hemp growers.

LEGAL HEMP BUT WHAT ABOUT LEGAL CBD OIL?

The most popular application for hemp in the U.S. is CBD oil. CBD, or cannabidiol, has numerous benefits from easing symptoms of stress to reducing epileptic seizures. U.S. sales of CBD products reached $190 million in 2017. At the same time, the market is currently completely unregulated, making it challenging for consumers to separate quality CBD products from snake oil.

Hemp supporters argued that CBD products were protected by the 2014 Farm Bill and other legal precedents, but the DEA often disagreed. Though 2018 Farm Bill explicitly removes any product made from legal hemp from DEA oversight, the FDA regulates anything intended for human consumption. That includes CBD oil.

Moran noted that under the Farm Bill, “the FDA still has the complete authority that they do under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.”

So far, the FDA has limited itself to targeting CBD vendors that make illegal health claims about their products. The FDA classifies everyday CBD products as nutritional supplements and bans vendors from claiming hemp extract treats any health conditions.

WILL THE FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION WEIGH IN ON CBD OIL?

“The next step for the hemp CBD industry is that we need to self regulate CBD products to ensure they are safe, well tested, and properly labeled,” said Joseph Dowling, CEO of CV Sciences, maker of PlusCBD Oil, in a statement sent by email.

Many industry experts believe the FDA will face pressure to develop regulations around CBD products with the passage of the Farm Bill. Another factor is the recent approval of Epidiolex, a prescription epilepsy drug made from CBD derived from psychoactive cannabis. The approval of Epidiolex marks the first time the FDA officially recognized the medical value of cannabis. Still, some worry that it could lead to a crackdown on access to over-the-counter CBD supplements.

This is a complex and developing aspect of the 2018 Farm Bill and hemp legalization that we intend to cover in more depth in the future. Until then, CBD consumers should rest assured that their favorite supplement is likely to remain available. With CBD generating millions in profits and benefitting thousands of consumers, the FDA faces immense financial and popular pressure to keep this supplement available.

“The wind is at our back,” Miller said. “The public loves hemp-derived CBD so it’s only a matter of time.”

LEGAL HEMP IS A ‘WIN’ FOR PLANET EARTH

While CBD helps people feel better, and hemp can generate immense profits for both farmers and hemp companies, the benefits of legal hemp go deeper. Hemp can heal the soil, requires almost no pesticides and only moderate watering compared to other crops. Hemp fabric is a more sustainable alternative to cotton, and the woody core of industrial hemp plants can be made into hempcrete, a sustainable building material with numerous remarkable qualities.

While Miller cautioned that hemp is “no panacea,” he noted that Europe is already making increasing use of hemp plastic.

“It’s biodegradeable and renewable,” he said. “Just imagine if that can be replicated on a mass scale what that could mean for the environment.”

Moran agreed:

“[The environment] is the most important aspect of all of this. … The reason I have been an advocate for the past 10 years and why I have focused my entire education and career on industrial hemp legalization is because this plant can do amazing things for the earth, for the soil.”

Sherman suggested this could be a moment with international significance. Evo Hemp’s attempts to encourage hemp farming in foreign countries often faced resistance from officials afraid of U.S. government retaliation. That could be on the verge of changing.

“All of these countries around the world are going to open up their hemp policies,” he predicted.

 

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Growing Hemp In The UK: Regulations Stand In The Way Of Massive Opportunity

Despite a long history of growing hemp in the UK, by 1928 hemp was outlawed. Legalized again in 1993, organizations like the British Hemp Association are trying to overcome remaining legal barriers to the industry’s success.

There’s a long history of growing hemp in the UK. From Celts that taught women to sew and weave the fibre as early as 373 BC, to its abundance in the Elizabethan era when naval ships relied on hemp sails, rigging ropes and sacks, the crop is a common thread running throughout the history books.

By the twentieth century it had been marginalised, with its many functional uses inextricably tangled up with concerns around the psychoactive parts of the plant. By 1928, hemp was outlawed.

A densely packed hemp field with a forest in the background. It was illegal to grow hemp in the UK from 1928 to 1993, but advocates say strict regulations still stand in the way of a successful hemp industry.

It was illegal to grow hemp in the UK from 1928 to 1993, but advocates say strict regulations still stand in the way of a successful hemp industry.

That ban lasted no less than 65 years with permission to grow industrial hemp only reinstated as a legal activity for license holders in 1993. And crucially, according to members of the newly formed British Hemp Association (BHA), there remain a number of restrictions in place that hamper the huge opportunity for a thriving hemp sector in the country.

HOW MUCH INTEREST IS THERE IN HEMP IN THE UK?

Only launched this year the formation of the BHA coincides with the crop “gaining a lot more traction” in the UK and a growing number of farmers keen to get involved, said one of its directors Rob Kinghan.

A number of factors lie behind this surge in interest, he explained. Not least the rapid growth of the cannabinoid industry in the health and supplement market which has “injected a huge amount of interest back in the industry.” High street retailers, such as health food chain Holland and Barrett, are actively increasing the number of CBD products they stock, while brands such as Coca Cola consider CBD soft drinks and established restaurants market CBD menus.

Added to that is the recent decision by the UK government to legalise ‘cannabis-derived medicinal products’ where prescribed by a registered doctor. Shortly before the legislation was passed a national survey found that 43 percent of people supported the legalisation of all derivatives of the plant, including psychoactive cannabis.

A hand holding a hemp leaf. Prejudices against hemp and all forms of cannabis are beginning to fade in the UK, with 43 percent supporting total legalization of psychoactive cannabis ("marijuana") in a recent survey.

Prejudices against hemp and all forms of cannabis are beginning to fade in the UK, with 43 percent supporting total legalization of psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”) in a recent survey.

All which is significant — not because growing the arable crop requires any associations with the psychoactive elements of the plant — but because it reflects a growing education and awareness among the UK public toward hemp as a whole, and therefore a removal of the prejudices that led to its criminalisation in the first place.

In short, there is “a general awakening of the benefits of hemp as an agricultural crop,” said Kinghan and, as a result, those interested in growing industrial hemp have grown considerably, with some talk of the UK being a prime location for extraction and processing sites. Only regulation stands in the way of a thriving industry, hemp advocates said.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO GROW HEMP IN THE UK?

The BHA formed “to educate, lobby and commit,” summed up its chair Rebekah Shaman.

“Educate on the importance of hemp, lobby the government for changes and to collect industry together so we become one voice.”

In other words, it was set up to bring the rules around hemp in line with a shift in public consciousness of the crop.

“There’s an incredible shift in public opinion, everyone loves hemp,” said Shaman. “In 2007, I was making a hemp porridge and people thought they could get stoned on it. That was 12 years ago and it was a nightmare trying to get hemp out there, nobody wanted to touch it. Now everyone knows about it.”

Farming hemp in the UK remains a tiny industry though, with an estimated 810 hectares (about 2000 acres) under cultivation currently, compared to 33,000 hectares (over 81,000 acres) across Europe.

That’s largely as the legislation around it remains prohibitive, believe the BHA, with the government trapped in a “conservative and regressive licensing system that isn’t flexible or responsive to this changing demand for the hemp industry,” Kinghan said. Applications for licenses, costing £580 (about $740), are now often limited to one year (where previously it was three) and applicants are even required in some cases to prevent full business plans with potential buyers set out for each part of the legal plant. Unsurprisingly that “creates a huge barrier” to new potential entrants to the market.

WHAT CHANGES ARE UK HEMP ADVOCATES CALLING FOR?

Whole plant hemp processing

One of the major changes being called for by the group is a lifting of the restriction that prevents the leaf and flower of the plant from being processed.

A hemp field, with young green hemp plants growing in many long densely packed rows. Under current regulations on hemp in the UK, farmers are forced to destroy large portions of the plant, while simultaneously the UK imports "millions of pounds worth of CBD" every year.

Under current regulations on hemp in the UK, farmers are forced to destroy large portions of the plant, while simultaneously the UK imports “millions of pounds worth of CBD” every year.

Already confined to farming hemp for the fibre and the seed, a tightening up in procedure last year now requires growers to physically destroy all other “contraband” green materials on site, said Kinghan, while at the same time the UK imports “millions of pounds worth of CBD” from elsewhere in the world, an entirely legal cannabinoid.

“The money is in the leaf and the flower so by removing that opportunity for extractors and processors we’re having to rely on imports without giving our farmers an opportunity to be part of the gain,” said Shaman. As part of its ‘Whole Plant’ campaign the BHA is set to argue that farmers should be able to sell the leaf and flower to licensed processors instead, removing any concerns around selling direct to the public and subsequent confusion.

Who controls UK hemp?

For Shaman there is then the question of which government department should oversee the crop. Currently, with much of the plant still classed as a controlled substance, it is the Home Office rather than the Department for Environmental Farming and Rural Affairs (under which all other arable crops sit) that takes the lead. With experience in agriculture not housed in the Home Office, she argued, “that is crippling the industry.”

Shaman continued:

This is an industrial crop that could be turned into bioplastics, bio-diesel or fuel and yet we’re not given an opportunity because it’s not seen as an industrially agricultural crop, it’s seen as a demon crop. While under auspices of the Home Office we can’t move it forward.

We have to take the whole conspiracy away from what hemp is and see it for what it is, a super environmentally friendly crop that has all sorts of industrial applications, and that can help us with our environmental impact as we choke under the dominance of fossil fuels, plastics and so forth.

A young child with short hair grins while holding a hemp leaf toward the camera. The British Hemp Association believes that hemp can have a massive positive impact on people in the UK and the planet as a whole, if that government will get out of their way.

The British Hemp Association believes that hemp can have a massive positive impact on people in the UK and the planet as a whole, if that government will get out of their way.

That includes, finally, for Shaman and the BHA more stability around acceptable levels of THC, which currently sits at 0.2 percent, down from 0.3 percent previously, following new guidance issued in 2014. “That makes it really difficult to get some varieties grown because the plant naturally produces it,” she said.

IN UK ‘HEMP IS THE NEXT BIG INDUSTRY’

With all this changed both Shaman and Kinghan insist the opportunity for hemp in the UK is huge.

“I think hemp is the next big industry,” said Shaman. “And if we became an industry hub for hemp, creating sustainable products and bioplastics or becoming the supplier for Europe we would start bringing manufacturing back and that creates jobs. Hemp can offer all of that very easily and quickly. And a lot of people want to get involved with it.”

“There’s a real opportunity for UK regulations to lighten with some guidance from experts in the industry to allow many more farmers to grow this crop,” added Kinghan.

“If the government can listen to the needs of the industry we’re chomping at the bit to develop a very wealthy, successful and thriving industry in the UK.”

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Flying With CBD: Are You Allowed To Fly With CBD Oil?

Flying with CBD oil seems like a natural choice, given how this supplement relaxes and soothes our aches and pains. Unfortunately, the TSA is less understanding than we’d like.

Flying with CBD oil seems like a natural choice, given how this supplement relaxes and soothes our aches and pains.

CBD is a wonderful addition to your daily supplements, and it’s only natural that you’ll want to take it with you on trips and vacations. Unfortunately, America’s airports and airplanes are not somewhere you want to carry CBD.

A traveler pulls a rollie bag through a airport at sunset, their profile silhouetted by the sunlight streaming in through the massive windows looking out on the runway. While CBD oil can promote relaxation and relieve symptoms of anxiety, the TSA doesn't want you to bring it aboard a plane.

While CBD oil can promote relaxation and relieve symptoms of anxiety, the TSA doesn’t want you to bring it aboard a plane.

We can add it to our food, put it in our tea, drop it into water bottles, and place it under our tongues. CBD is a super-supplement providing many benefits for travelers including reducing inflammation and symptoms of anxiety. While CBD can be shipped across state lines, and can be sold legally, it still cannot be brought onto airplanes per TSA guidelines.

THE TSA SAYS DON’T FLY WITH CBD

The following is quoted from the TSA’s website:

Possession of marijuana and cannabis infused products, such as Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, is illegal under federal law.

Essentially, the rule includes all medical marijuana, and hemp-based supplements alike including CBD. The TSA makes no distinction between hemp and marijuana. The TSA is also exempt from state laws, as they operate under federal law. Which means that even if your products are totally legal where you live, you still cannot bring them onto the airplane.

The TSA says they don’t necessarily check for illegal substances:

TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs.

At the same time, they note that if they do discover what they consider an illegal substance, they’ll act accordingly and alert law enforcement officers.

Long story short, do not try to get on an airplane with cannabis or hemp products, because even if you get past security screenings, there are always customs checkpoints (on international flights) and other agencies (such as the DEA) that are constantly at the airport.

John Bussman, a California criminal defense attorney, sounded a note of caution in an essay for Kindland.

“The moral of the story is that the airport is a dangerous place to possess drugs,” he wrote. “The government is watching, and it’s sifting through your stuff.”

ALTERNATIVES TO FLYING WITH CBD

Fortunately, there are a couple alternatives to flying with CBD.

A woman holds out her arms during a TSA security check before flying. The Transportation Safety Authority doesn't want you flying with CBD, so you're better off leaving it at home, taking it before you fly, or buying more CBD oil when you arrive.

The Transportation Safety Authority doesn’t want you flying with CBD, so you’re better off leaving it at home, taking it before you fly, or buying more CBD oil when you arrive.

For one, you could simply take a CBD tincture, capsule, gummy or other edible prior to your flight. This would be a great alternative, assuming that you don’t have a 2+ hour wait prior to your flight. This way, you can get the calming effect of the CBD prior to flying, helping you achieve that all-important mid-flight nap.

Second, you can do your due diligence and research good shops around the area that sell quality CBD tinctures. Lastly, if you already have quality CBD products at home, you can simply mail it ahead of time to your destination.

CHANGING ATTITUDES MEAN FUTURE CHANGES TO FLYING WITH CBD

We know it’s a bummer that we can’t even take CBD products with us on flights. But all we can do, for now, is be patient.

American culture has already started to embrace hemp products and culture. A couple years ago, if one wanted to read about these topics, you would either read High Times or Vice. Now you there are numerous online publications that produce quality and trustworthy content about these formerly taboo topics (like us here at Ministry of Hemp). You can even find cannabis-themed books and shows on Amazon or Netflix and hemp publications and foods at Whole Foods.

We are now living in a world in which hemp is finally reaching the point of normalcy. Increasingly, these products are a part of thousands of people’s everyday lives.

So, with that being said, be responsible. Don’t bring anything illegal or contraband on flights, enjoy yourselves responsibly, and share the love of hemp, cannabis, & CBD with other people!

 

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CBD Myths vs. Facts: The Truth About Hemp-Derived CBD (VIDEO)

Despite its popularity, there are still myths and misconceptions around hemp-derived CBD oil. Our latest video takes a look at the truth behind 5 CBD myths.

CBD myths continue to proliferate despite the growing popularity of this beneficial nutritional supplement.

Hemp’s popularity is booming in America, and thousands of people have discovered the benefits of CBD. However, a great deal of stigma and confusion remain. In our latest video, we take a look at 5 common myths about CBD.

  • CBD Myth #1: CBD will get you high.

Hemp is not marijuana. Hemp-derived CBD products have less than 0.3% THC and will not result in feelings of intoxication. While it’s possible to have side effects from CBD, as long as you use a quality CBD tincture, these are rare and usually minimal.

  • CBD Myth #2: Urinalysis tests only test for THC.

While hemp extracts predominantly contain CBD, they are not completely THC free. It is possible to fail a drug test from taking CBD supplements.

  • CBD Myth #3: You need THC to activate CBD.
Despite its growing popularity, there are still myths and misconceptions around hemp-derived CBD oil. Our latest video takes a look at the truth behind 5 CBD myths.

Despite its growing popularity, there are still myths and misconceptions around hemp-derived CBD oil. Our latest video takes a look at the truth behind 5 CBD myths.

Hemp contains numerous naturally occurring compounds, called cannabinoids, that interplay to create beneficial effects. CBD can work alone, but when it interacts with other cannabinoids to greater effect, this is known as the “entourage effect.”

  • CBD Myth #4: Hemp-derived CBD is not as effective as CBD from marijuana.

CBD is CBD, no matter the original source. The human body does not recognize whether CBD is sourced from medical cannabis or hemp.

CBD Myth #5: CBD Products are illegal since they come from cannabis.

According to the analysis of numerous hemp experts, the 2014 Farm Bill and other laws and precedents make it legal to possess and distribute CBD oil in the U.S.

Sponsored by our friends at PlusCBD Oil.

 

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Drug Tests And CBD: Dallas Man Rejected For Transplant Due To CBD Use

Doctors refused to give a Dallas-area man a liver-transplant after he failed a drug test, even though he only CBD oil. Contrary to popular opinion, it is rare but possible to fail a drug test from using only hemp-based CBD supplements.

Doctors refused to give a Dallas-area man a liver-transplant after he failed a drug test, even though he only used hemp-based CBD oil, his family reports.

Contrary to popular opinion about drug tests and CBD, it is rare but possible to fail a drug test from using only hemp-based CBD supplements.

Rolando Rosa is in urgent need of a liver transplant. According to his daughter, Monica Garcia, her father had turned to over-the-counter CBD supplements to ease his chronic pain while reducing his use of his prescription opiate painkillers. Just when a transplant seemed within reach, doctors sent Rosa home due to testing positive for THC. Hospital officials suggested this reflected “noncompliance” with doctors’ orders.

Rolando Rosa with his family, celebrating Easter. (Courtesy: Monica Garcia)

“It’s a hard pill to swallow because we were so close to having everything done,” Garcia told us.

Read on to learn more about drug tests and CBD, and to find out how you can help Rolando Rosa.

DRUG TESTS AND CBD: THE MYTH AND THE REALITY

Consumers are buying millions of dollars worth of CBD oil supplements annually. One reason people seek them out is that they can offer many of the healing benefits of the cannabis plant without the high associated with psychoactive cannabis (‘marijuana’).

Legally, industrial hemp and hemp products must have less than 0.3 percent THC, far less than necessary to cause any high. However, these trace amounts of THC are occasionally detectable by drug tests.

As a result, when it comes to drug tests and CBD, we can only talk in generalities. Most people won’t fail a drug test from taking CBD oil alone, but there are exceptions. Different testing methods, variations in personal biochemistry, or extremely heavy use of CBD oil can cause failed drug tests. And these rare failed tests can have real consequences, from lost jobs to lost access to medical care.

According to Garcia, doctors at Methodist Dallas Medical Center told Rosa, “you can only take what we prescribe you.”

But Garcia said CBD seemed more effective. She worries about the potential toxic effects of prescription painkillers on her father’s already ailing liver. “What you prescribe him will kill him sooner!”

Rosa is far from alone. Thousands of consumers report reduced use of pharmaceuticals through CBD.

Methodist Dallas Medical Center did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

HEMP IS ‘VERY BENIGN’ WITH FEW DRUG INTERACTIONS

CBD oil is widely considered to be extremely safe, with even the World Health Organization declaring that CBD should not be scheduled as a dangerous drug. However, many medical professionals, still caught up in the war on drugs, defer to the Drug Enforcement Agency which continues to insist that CBD is illegal.

We reached out by email to Dr. Sue Sisley, a physician and medical researcher who is outspoken in her support of investigating the medical benefits of cannabis in all its forms. Sisley stressed that she couldn’t speak to specifically to Rosa’s case.

“This patient may have other complicating factors that cause the doctor to reject his transplant,” she noted.

Drug urine test strips spill out onto a page of medical records. Contrary to some beliefs about drug tests and CBD, it is possible but rare for CBD oil to cause someone to fail a drug test.

Contrary to some beliefs about drug tests and CBD, it is possible but rare for CBD oil to cause someone to fail a drug test.

Speaking in generalities, however, Sisley supported transplant patients having access to cannabis. “This plant has a very benign side effect profile that is often well tolerated and seems to have very few clinically relevant drug interactions.”

More research is needed in terms of cannabis’ effects on transplant patients, Sisley suggested. “There is a considerable amount of scientific data published in peer reviewed medical journals confirming that cannabis plant has anti-inflammatory action.”

Hemp-based CBD supplements are poorly regulated, leading to some issues with quality (which also sometimes appear in psychoactive cannabis). Total legalization and improved regulation would likely largely solve these issues.

“Most regulated markets guarantee that plant material is either free from fungal growth or nearly free from mold contamination,” Sisley wrote.

GARCIA HOPES TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT CBD AND DRUG TESTS

Garcia told us she hopes her father’s case will spread “awareness” about CBD and drug tests “to other people who have to go through this.”

She also hopes that hospitals will stop rejecting people from transplant waiting lists just for using cannabis or hemp.

“Hospital facilities need to start looking at their policies and regulations and maybe start doing some research on CBD and THC and the benefits of it rather than exclude people or demonize people over it,” Garcia said.

Rosa got real relief from CBD, said Garcia. “That was the only time my Dad actually felt good.”

Since then, they’ve halted use of the supplements out of fear of facing another rejection. “He has been hurting,” she said, with obvious pain in her voice.

Fear, she suggested, also prevented Rosa from sharing his use of CBD when he first met with doctors.

Garcia has set up a GoFundMe campaign for Rolando Rosa to help cover his medical expenses. Rosa lives on disability, with some help from his wife’s income. “There are medical bills mounting … We live six hours away, me and my sister, there’s no extended family up there to help him.”

There is still hope for his transplant: another Dallas transplant facility has agreed to evaluate Rosa for admission. Officials there told Garcia that the drug test won’t disqualify her father, but they’re still waiting for a final decision.

“We’re holding our breath until we hear back.”

Ministry of Hemp will update this story as we hear more about this situation.

 

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Hemp Legalization Amendment Bans People With Drug Convictions From Hemp Industry

A hemp legalization amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill prevents anyone with a felony drug conviction from growing hemp. Some existing hemp entrepreneurs could even find themselves shut out of an industry they helped to create.

Update DECEMBER 20, 2018: A compromise was struck over this felony ban in the final text of the 2018 Farm Bill. Read our full analysis of legal hemp in the USA!

A hemp legalization amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill prevents anyone with a felony drug conviction from growing hemp.

Some existing hemp entrepreneurs could even find themselves shut out.

“I have a very successful business, I’ve been in this from the get go,” said Veronica Carpio, an experienced hemp producer and president of Grow Hemp Colorado, at a hemp conference in New York last month.

Despite her undeniable contributions to the industry, a past felony cannabis conviction endangers her continued involvement. “If this bill passes, I’m out.”

At issue is part of the Senate version of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, which would legalize industrial hemp growing across the country. Sen. Mitch McConnell spearheaded the current effort to legalize industrial hemp and his “Hemp Farming Act of 2018” soon picked up bipartisan sponsorship. However, the hemp legalization amendment, unlike the original bill, bans anyone convicted of a drug-related felony from involvement in hemp growing and potentially other aspects of the industry.

FELONY BAN DIVIDES HEMP ADVOCATES OVER LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT

No other crop grown in the U.S. faces these kinds of restrictions. While most hemp advocates celebrated McConnell’s initial efforts to legalize hemp, they’re much more divided over this new clause. Multiple hemp experts we spoke with speculated that the Senate changed the language to appease conservative elements of the legislature and the Department of Justice.

The House version of the bill does not include hemp legalization. Legislators must now debate this and other differences in a conference committee before the Farm Bill passes to the President’s desk. Hemp supporters like Rick Trojan, vice president of the Hemp Industries Association, worry that even if it passes the amendment will create an unequal and unfair hemp industry.

“Excluding a whole class of people is not what I’m about,” Trojan said. “And not what I think the hemp industry is about.”

HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT COULD SHUT OUT HEMP ENTREPRENEURS

The United States partially re-legalized hemp through an amendment to the 2014 version of the Farm Bill. Under this previous hemp legalization amendment, states were free to create hemp research programs that included market research (sales of hemp products like CBD). Since then growers in Colorado, Carpio’s home base, made the state into the country’s top hemp producer.

The 2018 legalization amendment places hemp under the control of the Department of Agriculture. The department would approve each state or Native American tribe’s growing program. But the following clause would shut out thousands of people like Carpio from being part of these licensed programs:

FELONY.—Any person convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance under State or Federal law shall be ineligible—

(i) to participate in the program established under this section; and

(ii) to produce hemp under any regulations or guidelines issued under section 297D(a).

Hemp advocates worry that the hemp legalization amendment would exclude some of society’s most vulnerable people from the new hemp industry.

An empty prison hallway. Advocates worry that the hemp legalization amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill would exclude some of society’s most vulnerable people.

The full scope of the effects of this clause are unclear. According to Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, the amendment bans anyone with a felony drug conviction from hemp growing. He could not guarantee that it won’t interfere with other parts of the industry.

“We were disappointed to see that got added to the language,” Steenstra said. “That’s not something we were happy about.”

RACISM IN HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT?

“Just because you had a conviction for a drug-related felony doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be in the industry,” said Steenstra.

Advocates argue that cannabis is harmless and extremely beneficial. If the U.S. is in the process of legalizing hemp, why should past convictions prevent you from participating in the field? In fact, such people likely have skills in growing and production the hemp industry sorely needs.

“That is a way of intentionally slowing the growth of an industry,” Trojan suggested.

Trojan and Carpio were unflinching in their condemnation of the clause in the hemp legalization amendment, suggesting it perpetuates racist aspects of the war on drugs. Although all races use and sell drugs and mind-altering substances at about the same rate, drug convictions disproportionately affect people of color.

“We denounce racism and discrimination in the cannabis (both hemp and marijuana) industries and this new language needs to be challenged and removed,” Carpio wrote in a press release.

Opponents of the war on drugs are working to legalize cannabis and other substances while concurrently seeking to change laws to enable people with drug convictions to expunge their criminal records. Carpio said the felony ban in the hemp legalization amendment represents a significant setback to those efforts by excluding thousands of already vulnerable people from the earning potential of hemp. Even though most states are in the process of legalizing cannabis, most of the people excluded from the hemp industry are likely to be those with cannabis-related convictions. Statistics show police arrest more people for cannabis use than for all violent crimes combined.

CAN THE HEMP LEGALIZATION AMENDMENT BE CHANGED IN TIME?

Steenstra suggested it would be tough to change the hemp legalization amendment. He expects hemp legalization to pass in its current form.

“At this point, what are we going to do?” Steenstra asked, though he pledged to look for opportunities to change the amendment.

Joy Beckerman, president of the Hemp Industries Association, concurred.

“There is no such thing as legislation that doesn’t have concerns or flaws, unfortunately,” said Beckerman.

She appeared at the same New York hemp conference where Carpio spoke. “I would love to be able to go from prohibition to utopia but sadly that is just not the way things work.”

Trojan, on the other hand, strongly encouraged hemp supporters to keep fighting.

“Everyone needs to contact their legislator,” he said said. “Continue to push for equal access to this economic boon.”

We will continue to closely follow this issue at Ministry of Hemp.

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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, 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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