by Dr.Roberta DeLuca
Cannabis is “the” 2019 catch phrase. You may (and probably) have heard of it and want to know what all the hullabaloo is about. Here are the facts in a nutshell:
Since the Cannabis Act passed in Ontario, Canada, on October 17, 2018, and the US Federal Farm Bill passed on December 20 , 2018, the cannabis market has all but exploded.
Although Cannabis , (of the hemp variety), was approved for agricultural use in the Farm Bill of 2014, there remained ambiguity as to its legality for medicinal use (this opinion was especially held by the D.E.A., law enforcement and those concerned with the stigma of psychoactive marijuana (perhaps in remembrance of “reefer madness” and the “hippie” 60s.. With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the accompanying removal of Cannabis from the FDA Schedule I drug list , (which first of all misclassified Cannabis as dangerous as heroin), the law became crystal clear.The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill opened the door for a new agriculture commodity – industrial hemp.
Historically, in the late 1930s, due to political and legal concerns, hemp production in United States all but ceased. By the 1950s, market conditions and federal regulations further restricted growth. Then, in the mid-1990s, a resurgence of interest in industrial hemp occurred since industrial hemp could be used for paper products, fiber for clothing and many other purposes.
Changes were attempted in 1994, with the Executive Order 12919, which identified hemp as a strategic national product. Unfortunately, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act which included a hemp and CBD related provision to amend the Controlled Substances Act (114th State Congress) was denied.
It took until 2014, and passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014, that a regulated, national agricultural hemp pilot program under which states could create their own pilot program regulations was created. Even then, as mentioned above, there still existed confusion between federal and state authorities over state hemp policies, due to non-cooperation of the DEA with state programs.
Finally, in 2018, legislation answered the questions of farmers and states who had threatened or already issued legal complaints against the DEA. The 2014 bill left it unclear to the DEA and farmers because of the conflicting Federal court decisions regarding standards for the THC (0.3) content for hemp products, and for marijuana of greater THC content in states where laws allowed cultivation. This was especially unclear after the Justice Department’s 2018 rescission of the 2013 Cole Memorandum (which had called for relaxed requirements against consumers by law enforcement). By 2018, group petitions were enacted by several entities including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union , the Association of the State Departments of Agriculture, the National Conference of State Legislatures and various Cannabis grassroots organizations.
In mid 2018, the farm bill went to the conference committee. In October 2018, the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill were reconciled and an amended version of the farm bill reached both houses of Congress in late November, 2018. The bill included the hemp provisions of the Hemp Farming Act previously denied in Executive Order 12129. In December, the government was given the green light to proceed with the Farm Bill. Anticipating approval, the State Departments of Agriculture began efforts to coordinate state level hemp THC testing in preparation of the passage of the Federal Farm Bill. Before the Farm Bill, (Cannabidiol) extracted from hemp, was essentially relegated to research applications and the investigation of CBD advantages and benefits.
The Hemp Bill was passed by the Senate on December 11, 2018; and to emphasize the historical impact, the Bill was signed by Mitch McConnell, with a hemp pen. The law became law on December 20, 2018.