Hemp industry questions whether marijuana memo includes hemp
The Hemp Industries Association said last week that industrial hemp should remain legal in certain states even though the Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era policy of non-enforcement on marijuana laws, noting that Controlled Substances Act does not distinguish between marijuana and industrial hemp.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently rescinded a 2013 Justice Department memorandum that announced a general policy of non-enforcement of federal marijuana law in states that had instituted their own “strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems,” which served to protect public health and safety and did not implicate certain federal law enforcement priorities.
“It is the position of the Hemp Industries Association that industrial hemp remains protected under exemptions to the Controlled Substances Act, per §7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the ‘farm bill’), which permits the cultivation of industrial hemp by institutions of higher education and under state agricultural pilot programs, as defined for purposes of research,” the association said in a news release.
“Additionally, the U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Acts of both 2016 and 2017 include a provision that disallows the use of federal funds to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale or use of industrial hemp that is grown or cultivated in accordance with the (farm bill) within or outside the state in which the industrial hemp was grown. This further precludes the Department of Justice from pursuing legal action against farm bill compliant hemp farming, processing, manufacturing and commerce.”
HIA said it considers the recent developments at the Justice Department “concerning,” but that the association stands firm that industrial hemp business activities will continue to expand and flourish in the United States.
“As we extol our optimism regarding industrial hemp, we must also make it clear that the HIA does not support the recent rescission action by the Department of Justice,” said Colleen Keahey, the HIA executive director.
“This rescission stands to impact important business relationships that exist between industrial hemp brands and hemp product manufacturers, and the legal retail marijuana market. Marijuana retailers reach a focused pro-cannabis market where hemp clothing, food, paper, plastics and hemp-derived CBD product sales are known to perform well,” she continued.
“This decision is a step backward for U.S. cannabis policy, and boldly ignores voters who overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization,” said Joy Beckerman, the association’s vice president.
“If anything, the threat by the Department of Justice to crack down on state-legal marijuana could result in spurring Congress to once-and-for-all act to fully and finally protect the growth and expansion of the new American hemp economy,” Beckerman said.
The HIA will share calls-to-action regarding necessary amendments to the U.S. Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 3530), related hemp legislation, including Industrial Hemp Banking Act (H.R. 4711), as well as the association’s position on the next farm bill, the group said. ❖