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Tag: hemp

Parker: DEA Passes on Opportunity to Bring Rationality to Hemp Laws

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Overlooked in the firestorm reaction to DEA’s decisions last week declining to re-schedule marijuana was its decision not to alter the enforcement policy on industrial hemp cultivation and sale. To me this was a lost opportunity to bring some rationality and sense to one small part of the Cannabis quagmire which has resulted in the anomalous situation in which half the country has legalized pot for one purpose or another with the federal government continuing to consider it a Schedule I illegal substance.

I thought that the Acting Administrator’s and the agency’s decision on marijuana was a reasonable response. People think that keeping it in the highest schedule is an inflexible insistence that it belongs among the most dangerous drugs. It is not. It merely follows the Controlled Substance Act’s definition that it has not been scientifically proven that it has a currently accepted medical use and poses an acceptable risk. The fact that 25 state legislatures have authorized its medical use is not sufficiently reassuring to me to ignore the recent preliminary studies that it can be a risk to health, particularly for the growing brains of adolescents and young adults.

DEA has authorized 354 individuals and institutions to conduct research on this question, and when that research produces some answers then the decision to re-schedule it can proceed. Meanwhile, federal law enforcement and prosecutors have been forced to walk the tightrope on enforcement particularly in states where its use is otherwise legal.

But I thought DEA whiffed it on the hemp decision. For those unfamiliar with hemp, it is a variety of Cannabis Sativa L and so, even though it has miniscule amounts of the psychoactive THC (below .3%), it was swept up by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Thus came the end of a long history of promising and profitable commercial and agricultural uses.

La_Roche_Jagu_chanvre_1

Versatile Hemp

Hemp was used in the Neolithic Age in China to make paper more than 10,000 years ago. Its hardy nature and versatility spread its cultivation until it became one of the most produced agricultural plants in the world. Its uses ranged widely from ropes on ships, clothing, food, and dozens of other products. It is claimed that Columbus’s ships’ riggings, the Gutenberg Bible, the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was written, and the first American flag were all made of hemp products. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers.

During World War II hemp was used to make uniforms and for other military products. The government considered it so important to the war effort that it produced a film entitled “Hemp for Victory” in 1942. Some irony there.

Today, 30 countries in the world still allow industrial hemp cultivation, and some, like France, Great Britain and Canada, report that in the last two decades it has made a resurgence and that today’s hemp economy has increased by several times. Canadian farmers in particular would be unhappy if their southern neighbor lifted its prohibition. Hemp enthusiasts today claim that the product has an unlimited economic future. With climate change assaulting farmers all over the world, crop versatility becomes increasingly important to their futures as well.

Read more »

DEA’s Opportunity to Legalize Hemp

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The DEA announced recently a re-examination of the Schedule I classification of marijuana. This most restrictive classification is reserved for substances which have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Marijuana’s classification in the federal system is anomalous considering that 23 states have legalized it for medical purposes. The states have taken this action even though there has been limited medical research supporting that use. Older research used by legalization proponents was based on the greatly reduced psychoactive content of the substance thirty or forty years ago.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Drug Administration have made recommendations to DEA on reclassification, but these recommendations have not been made public. Advocates of reclassification argue that making it a Schedule II drug would permit more research on its benefits, if any, as a medicine. More research may well also point out the public health dangers it poses. A decision is expected at mid-year.

This review provides an excellent opportunity to re-examine the treatment of hemp as the same schedule as marijuana. There is a substantial argument that hemp should be de-classified entirely because of the host of potential legitimate uses it could have.

The hemp plant has a long history of use around the world. It was used in the Neolithic Age in China to make paper more than 10,000 years ago. Its hardy nature and versatility spread its cultivation until it became one of the most produced agricultural plants in the world. Its uses ranged widely from ropes on ships, clothing, food, and dozens of other products.

It is claimed that Columbus’s ships’ riggings, the Gutenberg Bible, the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was written, and the first American flag were all made of hemp products. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers.  During World War II hemp was used to make uniforms and for other military products. The government considered it so important to the war effort that it produced a film entitled “Hemp for Victory” in 1942.

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Hemp’s industrial future crashed in 1972 with its inclusion with marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance making it illegal to grow, sell or possess. There was limited scientific understanding of the psycho-activity of Cannabis varieties in 1972 and, even if that had been known, the difference of THC content between the two was not as dramatic as it is today. The THC content of hemp is .3%. Although marijuana plants averaged about 1-2% in the 1970s, they can easily exceed 20% today. Plus research claims that hemp contains which some scientists believe has an opposing effect both pharmacologically and behaviorally to THC. But these conclusions were unknowns in the 1970s. Few believe hemp poses a risk of abuse today.

Whether it was a reasonable policy at the time to prohibit the production of hemp is subject to debate. Perhaps today’s retrospective analysis of hemp’s aborted future is exaggerated. Maybe hemp’s day was essentially done, and it would have had limited impact in a more complex world of synthetics and agri-business.

But today 30 countries in the world still allow industrial hemp cultivation, and some, like France, Great Britain and Canada, report that in the last two decades it has made a resurgence and that its industrial use having increased by several times. Canadian farmers in particular would be unhappy if their southern neighbor lifted its prohibition. Hemp enthusiasts today claim that the product has an unlimited economic future.

The Agriculture Act of 2014 made it legal for universities to cultivate hemp for research purposes. Twenty-eight states have, likewise, authorized this limited use. This research has demonstrated the utility of hemp in the production of textiles, lotions, shampoo, and many other potential purposes. As renewable energy it is said to reverse the greenhouse effect.

There are factors on both sides on the issue of whether to re-classify marijuana as Schedule II. One factor in favor is that the facilitation of more research may point out the downside to legalization. As a dozen or so of these columns have reported,   recent research supports the conclusion that regular use has serious negative health consequences, especially for young brains.

Whatever the decision on re-classification, this time provides an opportune moment for DEA to legalize hemp. It will benefit farmers, industrialists, consumers and environmentalists. And it will give DEA some much needed credibility in this confusing and often inaccurate public debate over the legalization of marijuana.

Parker: The DEA’s Opportunity to Legalize Hemp

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The DEA announced recently a re-examination of the Schedule I classification of marijuana. This most restrictive classification is reserved for substances which have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Marijuana’s classification in the federal system is anomalous considering that 23 states have legalized it for medical purposes. The states have taken this action even though there has been limited medical research supporting that use. Older research used by legalization proponents was based on the greatly reduced psychoactive content of the substance thirty or forty years ago.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Drug Administration have made recommendations to DEA on reclassification, but these recommendations have not been made public. Advocates of reclassification argue that making it a Schedule II drug would permit more research on its benefits, if any, as a medicine. More research may well also point out the public health dangers it poses. A decision is expected at mid-year.

This review provides an excellent opportunity to re-examine the treatment of hemp as the same schedule as marijuana. There is a substantial argument that hemp should be de-classified entirely because of the host of potential legitimate uses it could have.

The hemp plant has a long history of use around the world. It was used in the Neolithic Age in China to make paper more than 10,000 years ago. Its hardy nature and versatility spread its cultivation until it became one of the most produced agricultural plants in the world. Its uses ranged widely from ropes on ships, clothing, food, and dozens of other products.

It is claimed that Columbus’s ships’ riggings, the Gutenberg Bible, the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was written, and the first American flag were all made of hemp products. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers.  During World War II hemp was used to make uniforms and for other military products. The government considered it so important to the war effort that it produced a film entitled “Hemp for Victory” in 1942.

imgres

Hemp’s industrial future crashed in 1972 with its inclusion with marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance making it illegal to grow, sell or possess. There was limited scientific understanding of the psycho-activity of Cannabis varieties in 1972 and, even if that had been known, the difference of THC content between the two was not as dramatic as it is today. The THC content of hemp is .3%. Although marijuana plants averaged about 1-2% in the 1970s, they can easily exceed 20% today. Plus research claims that hemp contains which some scientists believe has an opposing effect both pharmacologically and behaviorally to THC. But these conclusions were unknowns in the 1970s. Few believe hemp poses a risk of abuse today.

Whether it was a reasonable policy at the time to prohibit the production of hemp is subject to debate. Perhaps today’s retrospective analysis of hemp’s aborted future is exaggerated. Maybe hemp’s day was essentially done, and it would have had limited impact in a more complex world of synthetics and agri-business.

But today 30 countries in the world still allow industrial hemp cultivation, and some, like France, Great Britain and Canada, report that in the last two decades it has made a resurgence and that its industrial use having increased by several times. Canadian farmers in particular would be unhappy if their southern neighbor lifted its prohibition. Hemp enthusiasts today claim that the product has an unlimited economic future.

The Agriculture Act of 2014 made it legal for universities to cultivate hemp for research purposes. Twenty-eight states have, likewise, authorized this limited use. This research has demonstrated the utility of hemp in the production of textiles, lotions, shampoo, and many other potential purposes. As renewable energy it is said to reverse the greenhouse effect.

There are factors on both sides on the issue of whether to re-classify marijuana as Schedule II. One factor in favor is that the facilitation of more research may point out the downside to legalization. As a dozen or so of these columns have reported,   recent research supports the conclusion that regular use has serious negative health consequences, especially for young brains.

Whatever the decision on re-classification, this time provides an opportune moment for DEA to legalize hemp. It will benefit farmers, industrialists, consumers and environmentalists. And it will give DEA some much needed credibility in this confusing and often inaccurate public debate over the legalization of marijuana.

Lawmakers Try to Protect Medical Marijuana Users from Zealous DEA

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s defiant crusade against marijuana users may cost the agency a lot of money.

Federal lawmakers are considering several proposals that would severally limit the DEA’s ability to arrest marijuana users, the LA Weekly reports. 

One bill would protect hemp growers and sellers, and another would extend a law  designed last year to protect marijuana users in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Other proposals include trimming millions of dollars from the DEA’s hemp eradication program.

Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, saod “there’s unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on marijuana.”

Hemp Today: Department of Justice Guidance Should Shield Tribes Who Want to Grow Hemp

By Hemp Today

A 2013 Department of Justice memorandum designed to prioritize the goals of anti-marijuana legislation should shield Indian tribes who are looking at growing hemp as an industrial crop, former ND Federal Prosecutor Timothy Purdon said.

The so-called “Cole memo” is a policy statement based on Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole’s Aug. 29, 2013 guidance to federal prosecutors regarding anti-drug laws in states that have adopted ballot initiatives that “legalize under state law the possession of small amounts of marijuana and provide for the regulation of marijuana production, processing, and sale.”

Subsequent DOJ guidance in October 2014 expressly made the Cole memo’s priorities applicable on Indian reservations, meaning the prosecutorial focus would specifically not be on tribal lands.

While the Cole memo is focused on marijuana cases involving drug cartels, sales to minors, the use of firearms in drug deals, and interstate transport of pot, “It seems likely that those memos would apply to hemp farming,” Purdon told the Associated Press. “Under the factors in the Cole memo, it would seem like the department should not be prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of industrial hemp.”

A North Dakota bill passed this legislative session sets guidelines for industrial hemp production, and should make it easier for tribes to grow and process hemp-based products, boosting the tribes’ economic fortunes. ND State Rep. David Monson sponsored the bill, which is meant to put the state in line with the new federal farm policy that allows experimental hemp farming through state ag departments and university research programs .

Read more »

Column: DEA’s Actions with Industrial Hemp in Kentucky Is Arbitrary

By Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer
Cincinnati.com

On the afternoon of May 14, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture filed suit against the federal government. Enough is enough.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is illegally preventing shipment of hemp seeds to Kentucky in clear violation of federal law. For weeks, we have dealt with unnecessary government bureaucracy, federal officials unwilling to discuss the law or answer questions, and delay … after delay … after delay.To understand what led to legal action, you have to know the journey. From the beginning, Kentucky has taken a legally responsible pathway to reintroducing industrial hemp to our agricultural economy. We did everything “by the book” and in record time. We revived the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission, pulled together an unprecedented bipartisan coalition, passed a landmark state law legalizing hemp production in Kentucky, and traveled to Washington and worked with our congressional delegation to change federal law.

The Agricultural Act of 2014, signed into law by the president of the United States in February, authorizes states where hemp production is legal to carry out research pilot programs “notwithstanding any other federal law.”

A couple of weeks ago, a 250-pound shipment of hemp seeds meant for legal Kentucky hemp pilot programs was imported from Italy to Chicago. The shipment cleared customs in Chicago, but then, in an arbitrary and capricious about-face, the DEA seized the seeds when they arrived in Louisville. We negotiated for their release for days, and we thought we had the matter resolved. But then, DEA attached conditions to the release of the seed requiring the department to obtain a Schedule 1 controlled substances research registration and prohibiting private farmers with sites duly certified by and registered with the department from participating in the pilot programs.

When we confronted the DEA about this, the response was, “Make a counter-offer.”

Parker: Congress and DEA Should Legalize Hemp

Ross Parker

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com
Among the many varieties of weeds on my father’s Southwest Iowa farm in the 1950s and 60s was the hemp weed. Dad called it “ditch weed’ because that was where it mainly grew, along with in fence rows and sometimes in our cornfields. My brothers and I hated ditch weed because the plants grew to a considerable height if you didn’t keep it mowed or cut down, and they had extensive root systems which made it difficult to pull out of the ground.

Little did we know that these Cannabis Sativa L plants were cousins to a variety that would swamp the country, defy law enforcement for the next half century, and become the root cause of countless murders and violent crimes and the most widely used illegal drug in the world.

Awhile back, this column weighed the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. The conclusion was that the unknown medical effects and health dangers of continued usage of today’s marijuana with its greatly increased THC content as well as the potential for escalated use particularly by America’s youth made legalization a bad idea. Some readers probably doubted the conclusion’s objectivity coming from a career drug prosecutor but that’s what I continue to think.

The continued prohibition of hemp cultivation and manufacturing, however, poses an entirely different set of questions.

The hemp plant has a long and storied history. It was used in the Neolithic Age in China to make paper more than 10,000 years ago. Its hardy nature and versatility spread its cultivation until it became one of the most produced agricultural plants in the world.

Its uses ranged widely from ropes on ships, clothing, food, and dozens of other products. It is claimed that Columbus’s ships’ riggings, the Gutenberg Bible, the paper on which the Declaration of Independence was written, and the first American flag were all made of hemp products. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers.

During World War II hemp was used to make uniforms and for other military products. The government considered it so important to the war effort that it produced a film entitled “Hemp for Victory” in 1942. Some irony there.

Hemp’s industrial future crashed in 1970 by its inclusion with marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance which was illegal to grow, sell or possess. Its close relationship to marijuana plants and the possibility of its use as a recreational drug perhaps made that a not unreasonable policy decision at the time.

There was limited scientific understanding of the psychoactivity of Cannabis varieties in 1970 and, even if that had been known, the difference of THC content between the two was not as dramatic as it is today. Ann Arbor pot dealers, when confronted with a dearth of product to sell to University of Michigan students were known to travel to Iowa, cut up some ditch weed, bag it up and sell it to eager consumers. Considering the low THC content, they would have had to share some monster joints for many hours on the Quad to get high. But they still bought it.

Today hemp weed still averages about ½% THC, not enough to produce a psychoactive effect. Although marijuana plants averaged about 1% in the 1970s, they can easily exceed 20% today. Plus hemp contains cannabidiol which some scientists believe has an opposing effect both pharmacologically and behaviorally to THC. But these were unknowns in 1970.

Whether it was a reasonable policy at the time to prohibit the production of hemp I will leave to others to debate. Perhaps today’s retrospective analysis of hemp’s aborted future is exaggerated. Maybe hemp’s day was essentially done, and it would have had limited impact in a more complex world of synthetics and agri-business.

Read more »

Hemp Protesters Come to DEA Headquarters in Va.

hemp-dea-photoA new twist on the war on drugs? Protesters say they should be able to cultivate hemp in this country. The DEA says no.

By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Va. — You want to dig a garden, you need a shovel. You want to dig a guerrilla garden of illegal hemp on the front lawn of Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters and get arrested for the cameras, you need a symbol.

Shortly before they all were happily handcuffed Tuesday, the farmers took one look at what the activists had brought to dig with, and just shook their heads.

The symbolic shovels were shiny, chrome-plated affairs, the kind for turning the earth in a Washington photo op, stamped with slogans: “Reefer Madness Will Be Buried.” When the shovel blades were experimentally pressed into the mulch outside the group’s hotel, they bent like toys.

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