Congress Tells the DEA to Back Off Hemp with the 2018 Omnibus Bill
Many people are still concerned about the legality of hemp-derived CBD. If you’re going to buy or recommend hemp-derived CBD products, it’s important to understand what is happening with the law at federal and state levels. This is why each week Nature’s Breakthrough provides insight into the laws regarding cannabis in a particular state. This week, we’re also going to look at where things stand for hemp-derived CBD on the federal front. First, let’s make sure everybody’s on the same page about the definitions of marijuana and hemp (industrial hemp) and the language of section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (7 U.S.C. 5940).
Defining Marijuana and Hemp
While marijuana and hemp are related, they are not the same plant. Both are varieties of cannabis sativa, but are different in several ways. While marijuana can have up to 30 percent THC—one of the cannabinoids that give the plant its psychoactive effect—hemp contains less than .3 percent THC and is non-psychoactive. Industrial hemp also contains more CBD than marijuana, which has many medical applications. Additionally, hemp is bred for a wide range of industrial and consumer uses, including rope, clothes, and construction material, such as hempcrete.
Industrial hemp was first demonized and lumped in with marijuana under the umbrella term “cannabis” in the 1930s. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of the 1970s also made no attempt to differentiate the two plants. To be clear, the CSA defines marijuana as “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., …” But marijuana is only one kind of cannabis sativa plant. This technicality has wrongfully classified the non-psychoactive hemp plant as a schedule I drug for decades.
And what is a schedule I drug? According to the CSA they are “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Neither of these is true of hemp. And just to put things in perspective, 30 states in the U.S. now have medical marijuana programs, and opioids are a schedule II drug, while benzodiazepines are a schedule IV substance. Both opioid and benzodiazepines contribute to over 115 overdose deaths a day in the U.S. These facts alone should be enough to discredit the CSA.
Industrial Hemp as Defined by the 2014 Farm Bill
At the federal level, industrial hemp was finally defined apart from marijuana in 2014. According to section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (7 U.S.C. 5490), “the term ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
The act also clearly states that “notwithstanding” (in spite of) the CSA, industrial hemp is allowed to be grown, cultivated, and marketed under an agricultural pilot program. This means that any industrial hemp CBD derived under one of these programs is legal.
Congress Takes Away the DEA’s Spending Power
In late March of this year, Congress took extra precautions to protect the hemp industry. They passed an Omnibus Spending bill, which keeps the whole federal government going, that includes provisions to prevent the DEA and the FDA from using resources that would interfere with hemp farmers and businesses, along with interstate sale and transport.
Specifically pertaining to this, the bill included the following three provisions:
- Under the FY18 Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, Rural Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act includes the following section:
SEC. 729. None of the funds made available by this Act or any other Act may be used—
(1) in contravention of section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. 5940); or
(2) to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp, or seeds of such plant, that is grown or cultivated in accordance with subsection section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 6 2014, within or outside the State in which the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated. (See pp. 98-99 of the full text .pdf)
Under the FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act includes the following section:
SEC. 537. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (‘‘Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research’’) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration. (See pp. 239-240 of the full text .pdf.)
Additionally, the bill also urges the USDA to award competitive grant funding for hemp research:
SEC. 730. Funds provided by this or any prior Appropriations Act for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative under 7 U.S.C. 450i(b) shall be made available without regard to section 7128 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. 3371 note), under the matching requirements in laws in effect on the date before the date of enactment of such section: Provided, That the requirements of 7 U.S.C. 450i(b)(9) shall continue to apply.
(See p. 99 of the full text .pdf.)
About The Hemp Haus Products
Nature’s Breakthrough, an educational resource for The Hemp Haus, recommends full spectrum CBD. The Hemp Haus currently carries Ananda Hemp full spectrum products. Full spectrum CBD refers to the pure hemp oil extracted from a hemp plant, containing unmodified cannabinoids and compounds. Unlike isolated or synthetic cannabinoids, full spectrum hemp oil contains an array of cannabinoids, as well as many essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, flavonoids, and terpenes. These compounds have been proven to work more effectively together in a specifically designed, synergistic manner known as the “entourage effect.” These products are produced through an agricultural pilot program and are legal per the 2014 Farm Bill.