Nope, not drop like he left it behind. Chuck Schumer, who has been working on a cannabis bill for quite some time, finally made it official. What’s the deal with this new bill, and could this be what finally legalizes cannabis in America?
Chuck Schumer just unleashed his new cannabis bill, and if it passes, it will legalize cannabis throughout the US. Does it have a chance? We’re a wholly independent news publication specializing in cannabis and psychedelics reporting. Join in on the experience by subscribing to the THC Weekly Newsletter, which also nets you access to promotions on smoking paraphernalia, edibles, and cannabinoid compounds like HHC-O, Delta-8, Delta-9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP, and HHC. These days cannabis options are unlimited, so shop carefully, and only buy products you’re happy with using.
After months of circulating it around for feedback and review, Chuck Schumer finally officially presented his new cannabis legalization bill on Thursday, July 21st. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act can be considered either a decriminalization or a legalization. It would effectively decriminalize on a federal level, while leaving individual states to create their own specific legalization policies.
This bill is not new at all. It’s not just that Schumer has been shopping it around, but he’s been doing so for over a year. It was, prior to July 21st, a discussion draft only. This means it was never up for vote, and Schumer could spend the time getting feedback and updating it, so as to give it the best chance of passing. Bills fail all the time when there isn’t enough support, and it seems Schumer was doing everything he could to ensure his bill would get support once officially put out there.
Chuck Schumer is a democratic senator who’s been the senate majority leader since January 2021. Generally speaking, proposing a democratic bill to a democratic-led senate, should mean a good possibility of passing. However, it’s not always that simple, and this bill is a good example of why. The Senate has consistently killed previous cannabis bills, which is why Schumer shopped around his bill so much before presenting it.
Said Schumer last year to Politico, “When a state like South Dakota votes by referendum to legalize, you know something is out there… The American people started speaking sort of with a clear message. More than two-to-one, that they want the law changed.” It should be noted that Schumer used the example of a state that voted in recreational cannabis, and then had it taken away by its own governor.
What’s in the bill?
If Chuck Schumer gets his cannabis bill to pass, here are some of the particulars it would institute concerning cannabis in the US.
- The expungement of cannabis-related records on a federal level
- The funding for law enforcement to fight those cultivating illegally
- The establishment of social equity programs in the form of grants for small business owners who come from communities hit hard by the war on drugs
- The requirement for the Department of Transportation to come up with standards for driving while impaired
- The restriction of cannabis product marketing directed at minors
As a note on a couple of these points, there has been nothing linking driving issues with cannabis use, and in fact, current research points to less traffic issues in legalized states. Plus, plenty of other research says legalizations don’t increase new user numbers, which automatically indicates that there shouldn’t be an increase in driving issues either, as its already been the most popular drug for so many decades. So long, that its realistically silly to assume that these legalizations are whats getting anyone to do anything. A provision like this stands to treat drivers unfairly, even if they haven’t done anything wrong; and is likely meant as a way (both here and in individual legalized states) to collect money from residents.
The other point of note is the social equity allowance. In a recent TIME interview, two high profile economists spoke of their new book, Can Legal Weed Win?: The Blunt Realities of Cannabis Economics, which gravely calls into question the value of these social equity programs. The men point out how the laws for this are shoddy at best, and don’t take into consideration the population they’re working with, or the actual and realistic needs for getting into the industry. More and more I think these provisions are put in place to sound nice, while essentially setting people up to fail.
One last thing, the bill would also support interstate cannabis sales, something that doesn’t exist right now. This would allow businesses to expand past a single state, and legalize the ability to transfer cannabis over state lines. Right now, such an act is considered trafficking. It would also work to minimize cannabis business verticals, so as not to create monopolies in the industry.
So, why wouldn’t this bill go through?
The House of Representatives has repeatedly passed different bills of this nature, while the Senate is the more problematic arm of congress. Why is this the case? If these are democratic led bills, why wouldn’t a democratic congress work in the favor of Chuck Schumer and his cannabis bill?
The reality is that as private residents, we’re not always privy to all the moving pieces that go on in the process of passing a bill. If it really was about congressmen voting by way of the will of their constituents, it would be an open and shut case. According to Politico, national polls consistently put the approval rate at 2/3 of the population for legalized cannabis. Realistically, that should do it.
This is also reflected in 19 states with official recreational use legislation; one state – South Dakota – that voted it in and had it taken away by its governor; one out of one federal districts that legalized – DC; and two out of five territories with recreational policies – Guam and the Mariana Islands, with a decriminalization policy in the US Virgin Islands. On top of all that, 37 states have comprehensive medical policies, and nearly every state has some sort of medical allowance or decriminalization measure.
Yet, even with all this evidence of the people wanting it…its actually expected that a democratically led senate will kill the bill. Even now, many congressmen simply won’t go against federal mandate. Why this is, exactly, when their job is to serve their constituents, varies between politicians. But one of the biggest undeniable issues is outside factors, like business relationships that put money in legislator pockets. How many states would continue doling out opioids, if representatives weren’t taking money from big pharma companies?
So, while the bill technically should pass. It also very well might not. Not only would Schumer require all democrats to vote for his bill, but 10 republicans as well, in order to have a big enough majority. With some democrats already saying they won’t do it, this creates a problem. On the other hand, the bill’s unveiling only just happened, and how much pressure is created for lawmakers, could play into how they do end up voting. After all, they might like taking money from Johnson & Johnson, but they also want to keep their seats.
A final issue is that Biden himself has made different statements, and it’s hard to know if he’d sign off on a bill. He says he supports decriminalization, but doesn’t act that way. Under his administration, at least five white house staffers lost their jobs for speaking of prior cannabis use, even though some was in legalized states, and all of it was in the past. It’s hard to believe that supporting such an action, is a stepping stone to a country-wide legalization.
Maybe it isn’t shocking that an old man is sticking to his old school standards, or, it could be the exact same reason that congressmen will go against constituent wishes. But there is another truth here as well. The one where the federal government loses power every time a state goes against it, even if it tries to bury this reality. I expect if Politico published a headline blaring the weakness of the federal government in getting its states to follow federal mandate, weed would be legalized overnight. For this reason, I expect if the bill manages to get through, Biden will ultimately sign it.
What about the other bill?
There is yet another cannabis bill making the rounds in congress. The MORE Act, aka The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (H.R. 3617), passed the House of Representatives on April 1st of this year. That bill is often touted as a decriminalization bill, as it lacks the structure of Schumer’s bill. However, it also acts as a legalization, as it sets tax rates for cannabis sales.
Should this bill pass, it would de-schedule cannabis from Schedule I, and take it off the Controlled Substances list, entirely. By doing this, it would invalidate certain crimes and punishments related to cannabis, free those being held for such crimes, and expunge records. This bill, like Schumer’s, would leave individual states to set their own local legalization policies.
And what of the tax? The bill introduces a 5% tax on cannabis products, with a rise to 8% over a period of time. I expect the word ‘decriminalization’ is used as a marketing line because it sounds less extreme than the word ‘legalization’, for those still in the middle of the road. It should be remembered, though, that the government can’t tax an illegal or even decriminalized industry. That the bill incorporates this, means the bill would be allowing legal markets, making the bill a legalization measure, regardless of the words used to describe it.
This bill is in the same place as Schumer’s at the moment, with backers trying to build support to get it through a senate vote. Which bill is more amenable to passage in the Senate is hard to say, but it’s certainly a competition now, and it will be interesting to see how everything plays out.
The sad part of all this is how badly politicians are ignoring their constituent’s desires, and how not-well-understood this is by constituents. I don’t really like either of these bills, and am disappointed by the legal weed industry in general. But I also think whatever can be done to keep kids from going to jail for smoking a joint, should be done as fast as possible.
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Double Standards – Will Biden Keep His Cannabis Reform Promises?
Regardless of what side of the political fence you’re on, there is one thing everyone can agree on: Republicans are more conservative, and Democrats are more liberal – especially when it comes to progressive drug policies. And while this statement rings true almost 100% of the time, the exact opposite applies to our current president, Joe Biden.
While Biden has made many cannabis-related promises along the campaign trail and during his time in office, and he has supported a handful of modest reform proposals, the White House has made it very clear that his overall position on adult-use legalization has not changed over the years: he is NOT in favor. And this is despite overwhelming support for progressive policy change among voters in his party.
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Biden’s daughter-in-law shops for weed with secret service detail
In the most recent Biden-cannabis drama, it was reported last month by the Daily Mail that Melissa Cohen, wife of Hunter Biden and the president’s daughter-in-law, was seen leaving a Malibu-based dispensary called 99 High Tide, and she was carrying a “small unidentified purchase”. Additionally, it was noted that following Cohen was a plain-clothed secret service agent.
Although cannabis is recreationally legal in California and many other states, it’s still federally prohibited… and that’s not exactly where the issue lies anyway. The real problem here, is the idea of using a federally funded secret service to protect one of Biden’s relatives during a pot transaction, while tens of thousands of people remain behind bars for past nonviolent possession charges.
In giving the benefit of the doubt, it’s plausible that Cohen was in the store buying one of their few high-CBD products – which are federally legal. However, while searching through their online menu, I found only one product that fit the bill; the rest of their “CBD products” contained various ratios of THC and CBD, all of which resulted in more than 0.3% THC, and thus, more than the federally legal limit. So, while there is a slight possibility that Cohen was buying CBD products at a recreational cannabis dispensary, it’s highly unlikely.
It’s also worth noting that the Daily Mail’s claim of Cohen having a secret service agent in tow could not be independently verified, as the White House would not respond to questions from the various news sources who have reached out for comments.
White house staffers fired for admitting to past cannabis use
Last spring it was reported through various news outlets that “dozens of young White House staffers, freshly hired were abruptly told to quit, were suspended from their jobs, or otherwise punished “due to past marijuana use.” This happened after the staffers personally admitted to having used cannabis in the past on security clearance application forms. It’s worth noting that cannabis has been legal for adults 21 and older in Washington D.C. since 2015.
The firings and suspensions fly in the face of the more progressive appearance that the White House is trying to present, and their new policies. In February (one month before this incident), the White House Office of Personnel Management stated that past cannabis use was no longer an automatic employment disqualifier, and that federal agencies “should exercise special care before making a determination of unsuitability” in such circumstances.
Whether the staffers’ cannabis use was recreational or medical, legal or illegal, was never made clear. Of the few staffers who commented, under anonymity, the general consensus was that it would not have mattered either way. “The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained,” mentioned one former employee.
The reason why cannabis is considered a “national security risk” or a disqualifier for federal employment, also remains unclear. Both the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and NSA (National Security Agency) have recently updated their policies on past cannabis use, claiming that it was difficult to find hackers and cybersecurity experts with clean drug records.
Biden’s sketchy history with drug reform
He’s made improvements over the years, but as his documented history shows us, there were very few D.C. lawmakers who were tougher on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s than Senator Joe Biden from Delaware. During the entirety of those 2 decades, Biden was a prominent figure in the War on Drugs and was responsible for unjustly imprisoning tens of thousands of Americans – many of which were minority or low-income individuals – on trumped up drug charges, including thousands for cannabis.
Specifically, Biden introduced numerous bills with that would implement harsh penalties for those convicted of producing and distributing federally prohibited, or schedule 1, narcotics. These bills called for increased severity in dealing with first offenders, as well as longer prison sentences for all. One specific piece of legislature that comes to mind is the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which sounds good but unfortunately played a key role in mass incarcerations for drug offenses, even many who were not involved in violent crimes.
Biden’s stance never really changed, with him quoted making anti-cannabis comments as recently as 2010. “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing it,” Biden stated in an ABC News Interview. “The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug.”
However, Biden claims that his views on marijuana have improved lately – but he can say whatever he wants, his actions, however, raise questions. Knowing that Americans want cannabis legalized and available to them, Biden completely changed his tune come January 2019. “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing it. The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug,” Biden claimed.
A few months later, while speaking with New Hampshire voters in May 2019, Biden commented that, “Nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.” He laid out a ‘plan’ for decriminalizing marijuana, if elected, and automatically expunging existing criminal records for possession by reclassifying cannabis to a Schedule II substance (it is currently a Schedule I, reserved for drugs with the highest potential for abuse and addiction).
And in his last 2 years as president, he has acted on exactly zero of his cannabis-related promises. Cannabis is still not federally legal, or even decriminalized, people are still getting in trouble for it in prohibition states, and many are still serving prison time for old cannabis charges in states that have recently legalized. So again, his actions show much less support than he likes to claim.
In one of his latest moves, he suggested forced rehabilitation for anyone caught with drugs. According to President Biden, “nobody convicted of a drug crime should go to prison, they should go to mandatory rehabilitation,” he emphasized at a campaign event in Kenosha, Wisconsin late last year. “Instead of building more prisons… we [should] build rehabilitation centers.” And while I completely agree with the first half of the statement, the idea of putting a cannabis user in rehab, just sounds completely asinine. Although it seems that he’s trying (a little bit), at best, he’s just very out of touch with what modern day drug policy should look like, and what his voters are asking for.
And Vice President Kamala Harris is not much better, claiming to support legalization and even bragging about having smoked in the past, but her resume says otherwise. During her career as San Francisco district attorney, Harris oversaw roughly 1,900 marijuana convictions (1,500 of which were African American males, for the record). NORML executive director Erik Altieri describes her history on drug reform has been “problematic,” and her “record is not one anyone would qualify as progressive, particularly when it comes to marijuana.”
Biden pardons a few cannabis offenders
And when I say “a few”, I truly mean that. More specifically, he pardoned 3 people and commuted the sentences of 78 offenders, out of the estimated 40,000 people who remain locked up on weed charges. Before getting further into the details, let’s quickly go over the difference between pardons and commuted sentences A pardon completely removes the conviction as if it never happened, so the person’s record is clear, whereas a commuted sentence still stands but the punishment is reduced or completely revoked.
The news of the pardons and commuted sentences were announced on Tuesday, April 25th of this year. All of the pardoned offenders had been previously released to serve time in their homes during the pandemic, a privilege that was granted to a total of 8.300 inmates because of COVID-related issues and prison overcrowding. One of the pardons given, and eight of the commuted sentences, were related to cannabis.
Now, it’s important to note that this was not part of some cannabis-related project or anything special that Biden was doing. These pardons and commuted sentences were done in clemency grants as part of Biden’s first year in office – and this is standard for ALL presidents during their first year. Call it a presidential ‘get out of jail free’ card, if you will, but regardless, it had nothing to do with commuting the sentences of cannabis users specifically, even though some of the offenders who got pardoned and commuted were convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes.
New cannabis legalization bill from Chuck Schumer
The reason this matters (well, it always matters, but the reason it’s more relevant now) is because a new decriminalization bill was introduced by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Thursday, July 21st. The bill isn’t exactly new, Schumer has been working on it for years, waiting for the right time to make it official.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would effectively decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, but would allow individual states to regulate it as they see fit. So, some states can still choose to keep it illegal, although that seems unlikely. That said, it’s hard to say how likely it is that this bill will even pass at all. Yes, Schumer circulated the bill around for the last few months getting feedback for how to make it foolproof, but there are still a few major potential obstacles in the way.
First, we have the Senate. Although legalization/decriminalization bills have passed the House of Representatives, they have all died when reaching the Senate for a vote. Beyond the Senate, the main concern here is Biden. Should the bill make it his desk, will he off on it? He claims to support decriminalization (hopefully more so now that we all know his daughter-in-law shops at dispensaries), but his history, as well as his areas of focus while in office, say otherwise.
In all fairness, it’s not surprising to see an old man stuck in such dated ways. It’s reminiscent of many of our own grandparents who just won’t get with the times. But a politician should be more in touch with what the general population wants, and data from Politico consistently shows that roughly 70% of Americans want cannabis legalized. With this new bill in the works, it’s very possible that the ball will soon be in Biden’s court – and it will be interesting to see what he does with it.
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Switzerland Implements Wide-Reaching Medical Cannabis Program
All eyes are on Switzerland as the country makes big moves to start its own cannabis industry. The country announced plans for a recreational measure last year, and now Switzerland is introducing a wide-reaching medical program that goes far beyond its previous limits.
Switzerland is on a rampage, both widening its medical cannabis program, and awaiting new recreational legislation. Cannadelics is an independent news source focusing on the cannabis and psychedelics fields of today. Remember to subscribe to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter all the latest news and industry stories, as well as exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
Switzerland up until now
Switzerland is all over the board these days, but up until recently, this was not the case. So what was the deal with Switzerland up until its impressive moves of late? First off, Switzerland is not a part of the EU, so it never had to go by EU regulation. Whereas products with up to .3% THC are legal in EU countries, Switzerland has a max THC level of 1%. Outside of this, cannabis is illegal.
In 2012, the country instituted a decriminalization measure which allowed for small amounts of cannabis (up to 10 grams) with only a 100 Swiss Franc fine, and no jail time included. Once either the 10-gram limit is gone over, or the 1% THC limit, a violator is subject to both a fine, and a prison sentence up to three years.
A lot happened in 2012, though it didn’t all stick. That year, certain cities gained the ability to legally grow low-THC hemp, up to the 1% limit. But then, Just months after this started, the government itself nullified this ability, because it said it was in violation of federal drug laws. Switzerland operates like many multi-state countries where cannabis penalties vary between its different states.
In another 2012 measure, legislation was instituted that made both selling cannabis, as well as possessing amounts enough to affect as many as three people, punishable by up to three years in jail, along with a possible fine. This was updated in 2017 to exclude possession, and to only fine those actively using; which allowed many states to drop possession cases for small amounts.
In terms of Switzerland and a medical cannabis program, the country didn’t have a comprehensive one until current events. The Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances in 2008 (implemented in 2011) allows Swiss doctors to get special permits to prescribe cannabis to terminal patients, for 12 months at a time. It also requires patients to apply for authorization from the FOPH (Federal Office of Public Health). Only tinctures and oils were approved by this measure, and its hardly wide-ranging, with only two pharmacies able to provide such medications.
This didn’t stop the pharma medicine Epidiolex from gaining approval in 2018, even as flowers and resin are both barred. From this time, however, pharmacies have been able to create specific CBD formulations for patients. Overall, the ability to access cannabis medicines has been highly restricted in Switzerland, though recent changes are now opening the country to much wider usage, with even bigger plans for the future.
Switzerland updates medical program
Everything just mentioned about Switzerland and its medical program, has now been updated thanks to a new amendment put forth by the country’s seven-member Federal Council, which is the country’s joint head of state and federal government. This amendment updates the Narcotics Act to erase the ban on medical cannabis, which in turn creates a much wider market.
Starting in the beginning of August, patients no longer have to apply for the authorization from the FOPH, and can now get a regular prescription, straight from their doctor. The new amendment isn’t just meant for patients in Switzerland, but predictably for an export market as well (very few legalizations of this sort don’t include the ability for an export market). Less was stated about an impending import market. The limit for THC is still the same for all products, at 1%.
Part of the reason for this change, was due to increasing demand for medical authorizations, which had grown to the point of burdening the government with extra administrative work, which led to treatment delays for patients in need. The conditions for treatment also expand under this new amendment, letting more people benefit from cannabis medication.
According to the government, this update should be beneficial to those suffering from spastic diseases, and pain issues. Prior to the update, approximately 3,000 approvals for medical cannabis were given yearly to those suffering from the likes of neurological diseases, MS, and cancer.
In order for the amendment to take effect, it required changes to the Narcotics Control Ordinance and the Narcotics List Ordinance. Cultivation regulation for this new medical industry falls under the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic).
Nothing was updated concerning reimbursement for cannabis medications by the healthcare system of the country. As medical cannabis is only reimbursed in the most dire of cases, this indicates that many people will be paying out of pocket for their cannabis medicine, even when legally prescribed by a doctor. The reason given for this omission is that there isn’t enough available evidence on cannabis as an effective treatment, which makes very little sense since it was considered effective enough to be legalized for this purpose.
What about a full recreational legalization?
Switzerland looks like it will be the first country in Europe to set up a regulated sales market, along with trials meant to help establish new regulation. In 2020 I reported about the Swiss government green-lighting trials for recreational cannabis, a project that has been in the works for many years. The trials will allow the legal production and sale of cannabis, but only in specific locations and with many restrictions. In September of 2020, the Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances was officially amended by way of parliamentary approval, which allows scientific trials for selected groups. This went into effect May, 2021.
These regulations set maximum THC limits to 20%, come with limits for pesticide residue, and also mandate warning labels. In order to be a part of these trials, and have access to this recreational cannabis, individual cities and municipalities must first prove that recreational cannabis is not hurting their current population.
As of April 2022, the first of these recreational test programs was authorized specifically for Basel, Switzerland. This specific program is meant to last two years, includes 400 adults, and essentially is meant to provide data for future pricing and consumption regulation, for a full recreational market.
Though the pilot studies sound interesting, they’re really only to help with what’s coming. Even before the programs officially started, a parliamentary commission made a vote in October 2021, which ruled that cannabis shouldn’t be banned, and that the country must establish legislation to officially legalize it. In essence, Switzerland has legalized recreational cannabis, and is simply waiting for a bill (the vote doesn’t change anything without written legislation).
The whole thing is a little confusing. Switzerland is pushing for scientific trials to assess how to run a recreational market, while already working on the legislation to set up that market. And to make it more confusing, the basics of this began before Switzerland even implanted a full medical system, which is only happening now. Somehow none of this seems like its in the right order, but one thing for sure is, progress is great, no matter how it comes. And Switzerland is sure in the fast lane to major cannabis reform.
Perhaps competition with Germany is part of what’s spurring this on so quickly. The neighboring countries are both planning for recreational legalizations, and are both getting amped up to enter the global market. Switzerland for its part is working on both ends. Updating its medical program, before instituting its recreational one.
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Why Are Local Governments Sabotaging Hemp Industry?
Hemp has been the enemy to many business sectors for decades, and its illegal status kept it from competition. The 2018 US Farm Bill changed this, re-opening an industrial hemp market. But what should have taken off, hasn’t. What’s most confusing, is that its actually local governments which pose the biggest blockades to the hemp industry thriving. Why would they do this when it means getting in the way of a lucrative industry?
The federal government might have chosen to legalize hemp production in 2018, but local governments have repeatedly made it hard for hemp farmers and the overall market; with incredibly strict, over-bearing regulation. Our 100% independent news publication focuses on stories in the growing cannabis and psychedelics spaces. We provide the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for readers to stay updated, and offer tons of deals for a range of products, from smoking devices to cannabinoid products like HHC-O, Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC. You can find deals in our ‘best of’ lists, for which we ask you only buy products you are comfortable with using.
Hemp in the US
The history of hemp is a sordid story which reminds us that the US government doesn’t always act for the good of the people, and sometimes in direct contrast to it. Back in the beginning of the US, during colonial times and beyond, hemp was a widely grown crop, used for all kinds of industrial purposes. It was such an important crop, that some colonies like Virginia instituted grow laws in the 1600’s to ensure hemp was grown by local farmers, mostly for use by the military.
During this time, hemp had tons of applications including clothing, paper products, sails and rope for ships, and so on. It was also a main component of many medications starting from the 1800’s, when Dr. William O’Shaughnessy brought it into Western medicine; after researching it in India. Why hemp was illegalized is a great question, and depending on where you look, you can find different answers to this question; some that make more sense than others.
Hemp, and cannabis in general, was used industrially, but rarely smoked for recreational purposes. This changed with an influx of Mexicans in the early 1900’s, who did smoke the plant. This happened around the time that industries started popping up that posed a direct competition to hemp. These included the burgeoning synthetics/plastics industry, run by the DuPont family; and the wood paper industry, with William Randolph Hearst at the helm, who owned a huge newspaper chain, and didn’t want to compete with hemp paper. Between the Mexican association, and push from these industries, as well as the pharma industry; cannabis was illegalized.
The process of prohibition started with 1937’s Marihuana Tax Act, which made it harder for cultivators by instituting more strict licensing requirements. WWII changed this temporarily, and there was a push for hemp farming due to supply issues into the US. This was all quietly shut down by the government post-war, and the case against marijuana and hemp was built even further. It was marijuana, and smoking it specifically, that was essentially used to illegalize the hemp industry, even though that logically makes no sense at all.
Though there was an understanding about the difference between high-THC and high-CBD plants, this information was ignored by the government upon passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which treated both the same. This law put cannabis of all kinds in Schedule I, saying it was so dangerous that it wasn’t even fit for medicine (which it had been in for 100 years on the Western side, and thousands of years on the Eastern side).
The distinction between the two types of cannabis wasn’t officially re-established until a federal court case – HIA (Hemp Industry Association) vs DEA that ran from 2001-2003. This case, and the re-institution of a definition between hemp and marijuana, allowed the entrance of hemp back into the legal market years later with the 2014 and then 2018 US Farm Bills. The latter of which legalized the cultivation and production of industrial hemp products nationally.
Why do local governments get in the way of new hemp industry?
You’d think that legalizing something and setting up a market is an indication that that market is desired. Sure, visually it looks like hemp production is promoted, but in what looks like a passive-aggressive move, local governments continue to set obstacles to the hemp industry, possibly implying that the legalization is more for show. This sounds odd, for sure, but let’s remember that hemp is growing in understanding as a more environmentally-safe competitor to massive, and massive-waste-causing, industries like the paper industry, the plastics industry, the cement and building industry, and even the oil industry. This on top of it already being a threat to pharma companies.
The thing is, all the industries above have corporations and lobbyists that pay greatly into the pockets of congressional representatives on both state and federal levels, making it more than possible that there is quite a large financial push from within, to keep this industry down. Along with this, its place as a ‘cash cow’ has led to insane taxation seeking to squeeze out every penny, to the detriment of the actual industry.
Recently it was reported that the hemp industry in Oregon is in trouble, and that its not about a lack of interest either. Farmers are repeatedly trying to jump through hoops to create these enterprises, and are continually being thwarted by new, and often overbearing, regulation. Governments usually make it easy when they want an industry. Consider the opioid industry, and the multi-billion-dollar lawsuits, which haven’t slowed anything down. Those medications are still sold, with a recent governmental proposal to lower prescribing guidelines…that’s how much their sale is desired. Even the travesty of overdoses hasn’t limited the industry, and that’s a real danger…so why are governments giving hemp farmers such a hard time? And what exactly are the problems?
How do local governments get in the way of new hemp industry?
What are the tactics used to slow down what should be a skyrocketing industry? Jackson County is one of the biggest cultivation areas in Oregon, and yet in March of this year, state regulators declared a state of emergency for cannabis, which creates a moratorium on new licensing. In fact, by law, when a state of emergency is called, such applications must be denied. The state of emergency announcement acts retroactively, going back to the 1st of the year, and continues till the last day of the year, effectively meaning no new licenses for growing hemp can be given out or used for an entire year.
Why is this happening? What terrible threat is there that now keeps hemp from being grown, as opioids are still widely prescribed and sold? Apparently, the biggest concern is rooting out all those farmers (reported as 53% last year) whose crops exceed the .3% THC maximum. Though this is advertised by the government as something done by sneaky growers cultivating marijuana under the guise of hemp, simply being over the limit can actually imply no more than, say .4% THC, which hardly makes it what they’re saying.
Considering its already known that its hard to stay precisely within these limits, the more reasonable factor is that farmers are just barely missing the mark, and this is a massive excuse to stop production. I mean, again, opioids…everywhere. Still. Even if it’s real marijuana, though the growers might not be sanctioned, it is a legal state. Should this really stymie the entire industry?
The other issue? Unregistered growers. Translation? Growers for which no tax money is collected by the state. Translation? Black market. Let’s remember, the legal cannabis industry can’t compete with the black market past a point, and this means both state governments and the federal government (federal for hemp only) are constantly trying to find, and get rid of, operators in this market. Whereas it really should be obvious by now that this won’t work, apparently, its not. Realistically, if governments want their legal industries to work, they need to stop with the overtaxing (both excise and to consumers), drop overly strict regulation, and stop treating the industry like a cash cow.
Instead, governments have retained their insane, non-working tax structures, and incredibly restrictive regulations, and then do antics like this where they stop the real industry, so they can have more time to find anyone making an illegal buck. Again, is this really an issue that should stop a legal market?
I don’t remember any large clothing manufactures being forced to stop all function until every knockoff vendor was found and put out of business. Does anyone else? Nope? Once again, no danger to consumers. After all, consumers have lived off this black market for the last 100 years. Calling it dirty and unsafe now, is about the dumbest smear campaign, yet that very logic is used to explain why these growers need to go. Translation? Money lost to taxing bodies. Period.
Into the future
Similar issues of regulation and/or high taxes are seen nearly anywhere that hemp (and marijuana) industries exist in the US. Take Washington, for example, where complaints over taxes still exist ten years after the start of the market. Or California, where the market has suffered so badly, that the state is actually overhauling its tax structure in hopes this can reinvigorate it. Hawaii is yet another example, with cultivators in the state fighting against overly restrictive regulation that restricts access to the local market, and requires a painful three-day notice period for crop transport, testing, and inspection.
There are plenty of other factors that also effect the hemp industry, like overproduction. 2018-2019 was a good time for CBD sales, and this led to inflated expectation for demand, which was subsequently not met. Operators jumped in without thought or research, and somehow no one considered it could be nothing more than a fad. This misconception led to a massive amount of overproduction, lowered prices, and a harder time competing. The inflated expectation came from nearly every publication, which all touted unrealistic numbers, based on no experience. Never a good idea.
Right now, a lot of hemp production is geared toward the CBD and cannabinoids market, which in and of itself shows the lack of understanding among growers of applications outside of drug-related or wellness products. Perhaps as actual industrial uses like plastics and paper start to pop up more, the hemp industry will see further invigoration, and a massive rise in production. After all, THIS is what ‘industrial’ hemp is meant for in the first place. And yet even despite this, I have yet to hear of a government promoting these uses.
Why hemp for plastic and paper (among other uses) hasn’t ballooned out exponentially could be related to many things including existing industries that don’t want competition. Perhaps this is why local governments get in the way of the hemp industry, which was just legalized. It should be understood by now that leveraging too-strict regulation, forcing high taxes, and trying to weed out black markets at the expense of legal ones, will never lead to anything good. And though stories abound about the large taxes brought in for cannabis, in states like Massachusetts, one can only wonder what that number would be, if governments stopped trying to sabotage the industry.
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