Minnesota: Congressman Peterson Joins Smith, Craig and McCollum To Urge Federal Agencies To Clarify Hemp Rules

MINNESOTA: Representative Collin Peterson today jointed U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN 2), and Betty McCollum (D-MN 4) in calling on the leaders of four federal agencies to streamline hemp rules. Currently, contradictory federal guidelines are leading to uncertainty in the market and preventing Minnesota farmers and Tribes from fully reaping the economic benefits of growing hemp.

“The bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp in order to create economic opportunities for farmers. Minnesota farmers appreciate the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts in implementing the Interim Rule on Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program. However, despite the Interim Rule there are still hurdles in place for Minnesota farmers to fully realize the economic benefits of growing hemp,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Sen. Smith and Reps. Craig, McCollum and Peterson go on to identify some of the inconsistencies that need to be addressed: “The federal regulatory framework has proven to be inconsistent. For example, the USDA’s rule stated that farmers will be held accountable – facing possible revoking of their licenses – if their crops test above a .5 percent THC level three times in a five year period. Despite this somewhat onerous and arbitrary level, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) instituted their own rule saying that exceeding .3 percent THC level deems the crop a controlled substance.

The burdensome competing rules don’t allow for remediation if the crop tests above the deemed inappropriate levels. Farmers should not be penalized for plants that they intended to grow as hemp, but for any number of reasons, the final THC numbers exceeded the arbitrary 0.3% THC level.  At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance on CBD is still pending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which adds even more uncertainty to the marketplace.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Defense Bill Amendment Removes DOD CBD/Hemp Prohibition

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, secured an amendment to the annual national defense bill that would ensure that the U.S. Department of Defense may not prohibit the possession, use, or consumption of hemp products — in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and local law — by servicemembers. This would apply to hemp that meets the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 definition (amended by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018). The Gabbard amendment was included in the final version of the bill which passed on Tuesday, 295-125, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“There is great research being done around hemp, resulting in new products coming to market that are proven to help with ailments like insomnia, inflammation, chronic pain, epilepsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress and more. Hemp products provide a form of treatment that serves as an alternative option for those who would rather pursue natural remedies rather than prescription drugs. This amendment passed with strong bipartisan support, ensuring our servicemembers have access to the same over-the-counter products that Americans all across the country benefit from today,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The 2018 Farm Bill, known as the Agricultural Improvement Act, legalized hemp, defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis with extremely low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis). Currently, many over-the-counter products are sold that meet these parameters.

USDA Hosts Webinar On The Domestic Hemp Production Program & 2018 Farm Bill

Screenshot 2019-03-07 09.48.10DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The USDA will host a free webinar explaining the 2018 Farm Bill and The Domestic Hemp Production Program.

Event Date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – 12:00pm to 3:00pm

The Specialty Crops Program is conducting a webinar to solicit public comments on the sections of the 2018 USDA Farm Bill relative to multiple sections dealing with industrial hemp. Up to 1,000 people at a time may view the webinar; however, time constraints will allow only 60 speakers during the webinar and it will not include a Question and Answer session. Speakers will have a maximum time limit of three minutes and must submit a written copy of their comments to farmbill.hemp@usda.gov by March 11, 2019.

To register: Visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_L2G9K7cXTkayQ2O1_0AP0g  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

For questions regarding the listening session, please email Jeff Davis or view the Federal Register Notice

For additional information on the marketing program visit the Marketing Program for the Commercial Production of Hemp webpage.

South Dakota Governor Noem Encourages Legislators To Table Industrial Hemp Discussions

SOUTH DAKOTA: Governor Kristi Noem asked the South Dakota legislature to table discussions on legalizing industrial hemp this legislative session.

“South Dakota is not ready for industrial hemp production,” said Noem. “There are still questions about the impact on public safety, enforcement, and costs to the taxpayers. We need to see federal guidelines when they are issued and then decide if this commodity is as promising as they say it will be.”

In December 2018, then-Congresswoman Noem voted in favor of the 2018 Farm Bill, a small section of which loosened regulations on industrial hemp. The crop is not currently authorized for growth in South Dakota under any state or federal program. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Governor Noem have discouraged producers from making plans to grow industrial hemp in the 2019 growing season.

Farm Bill Provisions Lifting Federal Hemp Ban Become Law

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: President Donald Trump today signed legislation into law that includes language lifting the United States’ decades-long prohibition on domestic, commercial hemp production. The provisions were included within The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka ‘The Farm Bill’), which takes effect on January 1, 2019.

“The significance of this law change should not be underemphasized,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “This law marks the first change in the federal classification of the cannabis plant since it was initially classified as a schedule I controlled substance by Congress in 1970, and paves the way for the first federally-sanctioned commercial hemp grows since World War II.”

Language included in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill (Sec. 7606) permitted states to license farmers to cultivate hemp as part of a university-sanction pilot program, but did not allow for the commercialization of the crop.

The hemp-specific provisions of the 2018 Act amend the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance under federal law.

The Act also broadens the definition of ‘hemp’ (Section 297A) to include “any part of the plant, including … extracts [or] cannabinoids” that do not possess greater than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. To date, various commercial products – such as some CBD oils – are advertised as being derived from hemp, although some experts in the field dispute the notion that such plants are an efficient source for cannabinoids.

The Act (Section 297B) permits those US states that wish to possess “primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp” to submit a plan to the US Secretary of Agriculture. The agency has 60 days to approve, disapprove, or amend the plan. In instances where a state-proposed plan is not approved, “it shall be unlawful to produce hemp in that state … without a license.” Federal grant opportunities will be available to licensed commercial farmers, as will the ability for farmers to obtain crop insurance. The Act does not federally recognize non-licensed, non-commercial hemp cultivation activities.

Nothing in the new language (Section 297D) shall “affect or modify” the existing regulatory powers of the US Food and Drug Administration or other agencies with regard to the enforcement of the US Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act or the Public Health Service Act. The FDA has previously acknowledged that it will “take action when we see the illegal marketing of CBD-containing products with unproven medical claims. We’re especially concerned when these products are marketed for serious or life-threatening diseases, where the illegal promotion of an unproven compound could discourage a patient from seeking other therapies that have proven benefits.”

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “These changes represent a significant and long overdue shift in US policy. Nonetheless, future regulatory efforts will likely still be required to address emerging consumer issues when it comes to the commercial sale and marketing of certain hemp-derived products, particularly so-called hemp-derived CBD extracts. For years, many of the producers of these products have navigated in a grey area of the law — manufacturing products of variable and sometimes questionable quality and safety. Now it is time for lawmakers to craft consistent benchmark safety and quality standards for hemp-derived CBD in order to increase consumer satisfaction and confidence as this nascent industry transitions into a legal marketplace.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

Reconciled Farm Bill To Include Provisions Lifting Federal Hemp Ban

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  House and Senate lawmakers have agreed in principle to a reconciled version of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill), which includes provisions lifting the federal prohibition of industrial hemp.

The hemp-specific provisions – which Senate Majority Speaker Mitch McConnell (R-KY) included in the Senate version of the bill, but were absent from the House version – amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’) Certain cannabinoid compounds extracted from the hemp plant would also be exempt from the CSA.

House and Senate lawmakers still need to vote on the engrossed version of the Act, which they are expected to do later this month. Passage of the bill would allow state governments, rather than the federal governments, to be the primary regulators of hemp and hempen products.

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, permitting states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

 

Senate Majority Leader: Farm Bill Will Lift Federal Hemp Ban

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reaffirmed on Friday that provisions lifting the federal prohibition of hemp will be included in the engrossed language of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill). The must-pass legislation is currently being debated by leadership in conference committee.

“If there’s a Farm Bill, it’ll be in there. I guarantee that,” McConnell told reporters. He added: “I don’t want to overstate this – I don’t know if it’s going to be the next tobacco or not – but I do think it has a lot of potential. And as all of you already know, in terms of food and medicine but also car parts. I mean, it’s an extraordinary plant.”

The hemp-specific provisions, which Sen. McConnell included in the Senate version of the bill, amend federal regulations to further expand and facilitate state-licensed hemp production, research, and commerce. The language also for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’)

Senator McConnell previously shepherded hemp-related language (Section 7606) in the 2014 version of the Farm Bill, permitting states to establish hemp research and cultivation programs absent federal approval. A majority of states have now enacted legislation to permit such programs.

Lawmakers are seeking to finalize and pass the 2018 farm legislation prior to year’s end.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

The Wink In Weed: Why Seattle Hempfest Is Still Worth Supporting

By David Rheins

It’s been five years since Washington opened its legal cannabis marketplace, and today adult consumers in the Evergreen state have an abundance of high-quality, legal weed available in an impressive array of product configurations at affordable prices.

Seattle Hempfest, taking place this week along the gorgeous Puget Sound, is the nation’s oldest and largest “Protestival.”  It began as forum and platform for activists, patients and pot smokers to gather together to fight for their rights to toke in peace.  Back then, firing up a joint in public had real potential consequences — and could land you with a fine or even jail time.

My fellow Hempfest Volunteers in their Green T-Shirts

Hempfest Volunteers

Today, Washingtonians don’t have to go to the park to spark up. Pot smoking is legal, accepted and somewhat normalized in the Pacific Northwest. Leading some to ask what is the relevance of Seattle Hempfest?

While more of a party these days than a protestival, Seattle Hempfest is still a must-attend annual gathering of the cannabis tribes.  Our Green Revolution is a broad tent, with a diverse set of communities.  We are advocates, patients, farmers, business professionals, parents, teachers and caregivers, all united under the belief that Federal Prohibition, and the War on Drugs — and Drugs Users — must end. There is something powerful and undeniable about seeing a hundred thousand pot smokers gather together to celebrate community.

There is still much legal reform that needs to happen before cannabis consumption is fully normalized — and it is encouraging to see the momentum behind the STATES ACT and the Marijuana Justice Act as Congress has finally gotten the word that the American public — on both sides of the aisle — are through with prohibition.  The 2018 Farm Bill, with its Hemp Farming provision, will de-schedule industrial hemp and open the way for explosive growth in hemp-based products, including consumer goods, industrial materials, foods, fuels and medicines.

We are in a fight for the control of our legal cannabis industry.  Big Pharma, Big Alcohol, Big Tobacco, Big Agriculture and Big Government Regulators are all fighting to establish their places in our new mainstream marijuana marketplace. We must continue to stay involved now as the new regulations and standards of our emerging industry are crafted. I see Hempfest as a natural venue for showcasing the best and most innovative hemp products. Cannabis consumer rights need to be protected to ensure that the legal products are safe, tested and of the highest quality. Legal cannabis businesses have an opportunity to build an industry based on the highest standards of production, marketing and operations.  We need to be fair and equitable in our hiring and compensation practices, and we need to direct the windfall of new marijuana tax revenues towards improving the health and welfare of local communities, particularly those hit hard from the War On Drugs.

CurvedPapersHempfest512x440As our alternative culture takes centerstage, it is important that we stand together for our shared values.  We are witnessing and influencing the end of an era. The post-WWII, better living thru petrochemicals, conspicuous consumption society is unsustainable — and is quickly being replaced by a global, plant-based lifestyle, renewable energy zeitgeist.

MJBA is proud to once again participate as a media sponsor and exhibitor of Seattle Hempfest.  We’re thrilled to be sharing a booth with Curved Papers, with whom we’ve been touring the country on a Cannafest Destiny Tour.  We’ll be showing off our NORML 100% Hemp rolling papers, and showcasing our latest poster by Michael Guttsen, and doing social media blasts with MJBA Ambassador At Large Jake Dimmock.  Please join us at Booth #323 across from the Hemposium.

Michael O'Malley, David Hynes Michael O'Malley David Rheins

It has never been more important to stand up and be counted.  Please come out to Myrtle Edwards park this weekend, listen to the speakers, dance to the music and support the many food and merchandise vendors.  Be sure to drop a few bucks in the donation bucket:  Seattle Hempfest is an all-volunteer effort, and it depends on the support of its Vendors, Sponsors and Attendees to survive.

 

 

McConnell Secures Hemp Victory In Farm Bill

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined his colleagues on the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee today to vote in favor of the Farm Bill. During the committee meeting, Senator McConnell discussed his legislation to legalize industrial hemp and the importance of including his Hemp Farming Act of 2018 in the Farm Bill. Senator McConnell’s provision removes federal roadblocks to industrial hemp and gives Kentucky the opportunity to once again be at the forefront of hemp production.

Senator McConnell made the following comment after today’s Agriculture Committee vote to approve the Farm Bill:

“Supporting Kentucky’s agriculture communities, this legislation will provide certainty to thousands of farm families while also protecting important tools like crop insurance. After today’s important vote, Kentucky farmers are one step closer to having the opportunity to tap into the growing hemp market. By securing my hemp provision in the Farm Bill, we are building upon the successes of the hemp pilot programs and encouraging the great potential of this versatile crop. I would like to thank Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts for his work on this victory for our farmers, processors, and manufacturers. I look forward to considering this legislation on the Senate floor so we can continue to see new products with Kentucky-grown hemp in our state and throughout the nation.”

With the Committee’s approval of the Farm Bill, Senator McConnell announced the legislation will go before the full Senate for consideration before July 4th