Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., left, and Dana Rohrabacher, D-Calif., two of the four U.S. congressmen who have launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Photo by Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc
With public support for reforming marijuana laws at an all time high, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) have formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus to promote sensible cannabis policy reform and to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.
The official establishment of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus represents yet another step forward toward ultimately reforming cannabis policy at the federal level. The creation of this caucus is yet another manifestation that our political power is growing — even inside the beltway.
NORML has been in this fight for over 47 years, representing the position that responsible adults who choose to consume marijuana should not be be persecuted or stigmatized. Throughout the country, our chapters are organizing to advocate for state level reforms. NORML represents a growing community of individuals who are coming together and working toward the mutual goals of building a more just and verdant society.
The end of marijuana prohibition will not come overnight. In fact, the forces of prohibition remain strong and the misinformation campaign that has spanned from Reefer Madness to D.A.R.E. is deeply entrenched in the psyches of lawmakers and voters alike. But just as we have for decades, we will not be deterred.
In order for our state and federal laws to be more reflective of the cold truths of reality and science rather than hysteria and racism, we must continue to educate our legislators and neighbors alike. Having a coalition of lawmakers in Washington, DC who will go on the record in support of advocating for cannabis freedom is something we haven’t had before, but it is an event that is long overdue.
So let’s keep building.
12:10 AM Central
Four members of the U.S. congress are banding together to protect the growing marijuana industry.
A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon. Republican congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Don Young (Alaska) joined Democrats Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Jared Polis (Colorado) to launch the new group. They are dedicated to developing policy reforms that can bridge the gap that currently exists between federal laws banning marijuana and the laws in an ever-growing number of states that have legalized it for medical or recreational purposes.
“We’re stepping forward together to say we’ve got to make major changes in our country’s attitude toward cannabis,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at the start of the press conference. “And if we do, many people are going to live better lives, it’s going to be better for our country, better for people, and it makes economic sense at a time when every penny must count for government.”
Various polls show that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana in some form, and a strong showing in November’s elections pushed the number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 28, while another eight have voted for recreational legalization. (Notably, each of the four congressmen forming the Cannabis Caucus represent districts in states that have legalized both medical and recreational pot.)
In recent years, under President Barack Obama, federal law enforcement mostly left individual states alone to enact and enforce their own marijuana legislation. Three years ago, Congress passed a bill that prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to target cannabis operations that comply with local laws.
Hemp Industries Association Sues DEA
For Ignoring 9th Circuit Decision in HIA v. DEA
In 2001, the DEA issued new rules to ban hemp foods despite the fact that Congress had exempted them in the Controlled Substances Act. The HIA, Dr. Bronner’s, Nutiva and other plaintiffs went to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the illogical rules and won a victory. This ruling prohibited DEA from treating legal hemp products as controlled substances and helped the burgeoning hemp foods market to take off.
Despite this victory and the clear order from the court prohibiting DEA from enforcing the rules, DEA has continued to put out incorrect and confusing information advising the media and state officials that hemp foods are still illegal if they are intended for human consumption!
Today the HIA filed a motion with the court to ask that DEA be found in contempt for refusing the follow the courts order. You can read the filing here.
Let American Farmers Grow Hemp Once Again to Create Jobs and Rebuild the Rural Economy – Sign This Petition
Created by E.S. on January 20, 2017 – Sign This Petition
Industrial hemp was once a dominant crop on the American landscape. This hardy and renewable resource was refined for various industrial applications, including paper, textiles, and cordage. Unfortunately hemp was conflated with marijuana but hemp can&#039;t be used as a drug.
Over time, the use of industrial hemp has evolved into an even greater variety of products, including health foods, body care, clothing, auto parts, construction materials, biofuels, plastic composites and more.
Farmers in Europe, Canada and China all grow hemp and over $600 million in imported hemp products were sold in the USA in 2016. Congress has 2 bipartisan bills which would bring back hemp farming and create rural jobs. We request that President Trump work with Congress to pass hemp legislation in 2017 – Sign This PetitionSign This Petition
Hemp Industries Association Files Petition Against DEA to Defend Lawful Hemp-Derived Products from Agency Overreach
19 Jan 2017 5:41 PM
Suit Seeks to Defend Hemp Farmers, U.S. Businesses and Consumers from Illegal Attempt to Schedule Non-Psychoactive Hemp Derivatives as ‘Marihuana Extract’
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), the leading non-profit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, filed a Petition for Review on January 13, 2017, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, seeking to block the implementation of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) recently announced Final Rule regarding “Marihuana Extract.” The proposed DEA Final Rule attempts to unlawfully designate hemp-derived non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including cannabidiol, as “marihuana extract,” and append the Controlled Substances Act to add all cannabinoids to its Schedule I. Furthermore, this action by the DEA contravenes clear Congressional intent and legal parameters for the production and consumption of hemp-derived products containing cannabinoids, enacted by Sec. 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill).
To read the full petition, please visit:
The DEA does not have the authority to augment the Controlled Substances Act; that power resides with Congress. Congress has clearly mandated, through the 2014 Farm Bill and the 2016 Omnibus Spending Law that the Controlled Substances Act does not apply to hemp grown in state pilot programs, and that it is a violation of federal law for agencies such as DEA to interfere with these programs. The DEA’s proposed rule regarding cannabinoids thumbs its nose at Congress and threatens to undermine the market for legal hemp products containing cannabinoids, including those produced in the U.S. under state laws that regulate hemp cultivation and processing pursuant to, and in accordance with the federal Farm Bill. These products, such as hemp foods and supplements, fall outside the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and are not subject to regulatory control by the DEA.
“Hemp-derived products containing cannabinoids are an increasingly in-demand category within the hemp market—and U.S. consumers constitute the largest market for hemp products worldwide,” said Colleen Keahey, Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association. “We are committed to defending the rights of our members, of entrepreneurial hemp farmers, businesses and consumers, who all are acting entirely within the legal framework of the CSA and Farm Bill, including those adversely affected by trying to source American-grown hemp and hemp derivatives to supply this demand. The DEA’s attempt to regulate hemp derived products containing cannabinoids lawfully sourced under the CSA, and farmed and produced under the Farm Bill in states like Kentucky and Colorado, is not only outside the scope of their power, it’s an attempt to rob us of hemp’s economic opportunity.”
The DEA has made previous attempts to interfere with legal hemp products, notably from 2001-2003 when the agency contended that hemp food products such as cereals, hemp seed and hemp oil, are a Schedule I substance due to trace insignificant residues of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. On February 6, 2004, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in response that hemp is not included in Schedule I; that the trace THC in such products is similar to trace opiates in poppy seed bagels, and does not render them controlled substances. The HIA believes this 2004 ruling sets strong legal precedent for the current petition, which asserts that cannabinoids derived from lawful portions and varieties of the Cannabis plant exempted from control under the CSA and through the Farm Bill, may not be regulated as “marihuana” or “marihuana extract” by the DEA.
More recently, in 2014, the DEA interfered with the implementation of state pilot programs for hemp farming, when the agency unlawfully seized 250 lbs. of certified industrial hemp seed imported from Italy. The viable hemp seed had been legally sourced to supply six hemp research projects licensed by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and coordinated in conjunction with Kentucky State academic institutions. The seed was quickly released, following the filing of a lawsuit against the DEA on May 14, 2014 by then Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner, now U.S. Congressional Representative James Comer.
“Over a decade ago, the Ninth Circuit held that non-psychoactive hemp is not controlled by the CSA,” said Patrick Goggin, co-counsel for the HIA. “The DEA is again attempting to schedule under the CSA cannabinoids and non-psychoactive hemp beyond its authority. We believe the Ninth Circuit will invalidate this rule just like it did in 2004.”
To date, 31 states have passed hemp legislation that allows their farmers to cultivate hemp according to guidelines set forth in the Farm Bill. Per these guidelines, U.S. farmers planted nearly 10,000 acres of hemp in 2016. Farmers and agri-business across the country have invested many millions of dollars in infrastructure to comply with federal law; this retroactive misreading of statute puts the livelihood of these law-abiding companies and individuals at risk.
Recent DEA pronouncements indicate that DEA is threatening to flout prior court rulings, and assert regulatory authority over hemp seed, oil, and products made from hemp seed and oil, which have always been exempt from the Controlled Substances Act. HIA continues to monitor these developments, and will consider further actions to resist DEA’s unlawful attempts to regulate legal hemp products.
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The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) represents the interests of the hemp industry and encourages the research and development of new hemp products. More information about hemp’s many uses and hemp advocacy may be found at www.TheHIA.org.
A message from the Board of Directors
Eric Steenstra is stepping-down as executive director of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA). Going forward, he has decided to work full time lobbying Congress and states on behalf of industrial hemp legislation via his role as President of Vote Hemp. Eric is a respected figure of the hemp industry with twenty-four years of service, and HIA and Vote Hemp will continue to work closely together for full re-commercialization of hemp under federal law.
Since cofounding his hemp clothing business Ecolution in 1993, Eric’s commitment to the hemp movement has been remarkable. He became a founding member of the HIA in 1994, and fought alongside David Bronner and fellow hempsters to stop the DEA’s attempted ban of hemp food and oil from 2001-2004. Eric served on the HIA board for a decade, from 1997-2007. In 2008, he stepped into the role of HIA Executive Director, following the retirement of former executive director Candi Penn.
During his nine years of executive leadership, the HIA has grown substantially both in membership and annual event attendance. He also created the popular chapter program, co-created and helped build key education efforts and marketing initiatives, such as the HIA’s Hemp History Week program.
Eric’s legacy in the hemp industry is deeply admired-he has demonstrated discerning, passionate leadership. In addition to his service with HIA, Eric pioneered the cofounding of Vote Hemp in 2000, of which he remains President. Under his leadership, Vote Hemp has become the nation’s foremost hemp lobbying organization working towards full re-commercialization of industrial hemp. Vote Hemp lead the effort to pass breakthrough hemp language in the Farm Bill and has helped passage of legislation in dozens of states.
It is our hope that Eric will shepherd the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to become law during the 115th Congress, and we are grateful to him for focusing his insight and experience toward this important task. You can reach Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org and (703) 729-2225
After a formal review, we would like to announce our decision to name Colleen Keahey as new Executive Director. Colleen has been working with Eric Steenstra as National Outreach Coordinator with Vote Hemp since June of 2014. Colleen joined Vote Hemp after assisting with the development and passage of Tennessee’s hemp law. She left her role as publisher at a Tennessee non-profit trade association dedicated to rural water industries. In 2014, Colleen founded the first state chapter of the HIA in Tennessee (TNHIA). Colleen successfully contributed to hemp pilot program rules and regulations and also held eighteen meetings as leader of TNHIA. Colleen’s skills in non-profit trade association management will bring new opportunities to the HIA and its members. This transition will not disrupt current projects or campaigns, nor interrupt any services HIA provides to its membership. Members are encouraged to reach out to Colleen with any questions or concerns; she can be reached via email@example.com and at (707) 874-3648.
We look forward to serving you in 2017-a new year full of opportunity. Join us in congratulating and honoring Eric Steenstra for his years of service! And join us in welcoming Colleen Keahey as the new Executive Director for our association.
– HIA Board of Directors
Lawrence Serbin, President
Hemp Traders Inc.
Eric Pollit, Vice President
Tyler Frank, Secretary
Steve Levine, Treasurer
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
The Ridge International Cannabis Consulting
Hemp Oil Canada
Tahoe Hemp Company
Growers must pass background check
6:46 AM, Jan 6, 2017
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has approved 209 applications from growers who have been approved to cultivate up to 12,800 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes in 2017, nearly tripling the number of acres that were approved for 2016. More than 525,000 square feet of greenhouse space were approved for indoor growers in 2017.
“By nearly tripling hemp acreage in 2017 and attracting more processors to the state, we are significantly growing opportunities for Kentucky farmers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, in a news release. “Our strategy is to use KDA’s research pilot program to encourage the industrial hemp industry to expand and prosper in Kentucky. Although it is not clear when Congress might act to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, my strategic objective is to position the commonwealth’s growers and processors to ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”
The KDA received a total of 252 applications – 234 grower applications and 18 processor/handler applications. Applicants were asked to identify which harvestable component of the plant would be the focus of their research (floral material, grain, or fiber); some applicants selected more than one component.
In addition to grower applications, KDA approved 11 new applications from processors (in addition to 29 previously approved multi-year processor applications that were not required to reapply). Five universities will also carry out additional research projects in 2017. KDA officials cited the recent decline in commodity prices as one factor that appears to be generating increased interest among Kentucky’s farmers in industrial hemp and other alternative crops.
In 2016, 137 growers were approved to plant up to 4,500 acres. Program participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016, up from 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014.
To strengthen KDA’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates were required to be submitted on the application. Participants also must pass background checks and consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored or processed.
“We have made collaboration and communication with the law enforcement community a top priority for KDA’s management of this research pilot program,” Quarles said.
Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp research pilot program evaluated the applications and considered whether returning applicants had complied with instructions from KDA, Kentucky State Police and local law enforcement. To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA relied on objective criteria, outlined in the 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications.
The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940, that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. For more information and to view the 2017 Policy Guide, please visit the website here.
DENVER – A Kentucky-based hemp seed grower is the first company to have its seeds approved and officially certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
Lexington, Kentucky-based Schiavi Seeds LLC had three separate seed varieties certified as CDA Approved Certified Seeds under the new program, which aims to promote hemp agriculture in the state.
CDA has worked with CSGA and Colorado State University over the past several months to breed plants that produce seeds under the 0.3 percent THC content threshold to qualify as hemp and not psychoactive marijuana.
Varying seed types were grown and tested in trials in different parts of the state in order to find ideal conditions for hemp cultivation.
Colorado law requires industrial hemp seeds to contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Three trial seeds from Schiavi Seeds – Eletta Campana, Fibranova and Helena – passed trial tests and were accepted by the state Seed Growers Association’s review board.
CDA says seeds submitted by Fort Collins-based New West Genetics have also passed the THC trial, but still have to be accepted by the review board before they can also be labeled as a CDA Approved Certified Seed.
Congress approved hemp production in 2014, but a state certification like Colorado’s is necessary to raise the crop.
Colorado farmers will be able to start buying and growing the seeds next year.
Almost one year after filing the Cannabis Freedom Act, Kentucky State Senator Perry Clark has pre-filed a bill for the 2017 legislative season that pertains to legalizing marijuana in the state.
Filed on December 6 for the January, 2017, legislative season, the new bill is called the Cannabis Compassion Act and is filed as BR 409. Nevertheless, little has changed between the wording of the proposed laws of 2015, 2016, and the new 2017 Cannabis Freedom Act.
Now, voters will get another chance to see if this Kentucky marijuana legalization bill will fizzle out or get accepted into law.
Alternatively, the fact that recent elections have replaced some candidates could mean the newcomers are more receptive to marijuana legalization than their predecessors.
Before the elections, Norml gave most of Kentucky’s congressional members a poor rating for their lack of support for any type of marijuana legalization. The exceptions are Republican pro-marijuana legalization advocates Senator Rand Paul and Representative Thomas Massie.
In particular, it was noted that many Republican Kentuckians in the House of Representatives voted against the 2016 Veterans Equal Access Amendment.
While these elected officials in the U.S. House of Representatives might not be voting for federal legalization of medical marijuana or cannabis, there is still hope that the Kentucky State Senate will have new members that decide to vote for marijuana legalization.
Ballotpedia points out that the Kentucky State Senate had “19 of 38 total seats… up for election in 2016.” The outcome of this election did have some surprises, such as a large number of state senators running for re-election while also being unopposed.
Another interesting note in history is that the current bipartisan makeup of 11 Democrats and 27 Republicans in the Kentucky State Senate has remained the same before and after the election.
This meant that there was no shift in the number of Democrats or Republicans at the Kentucky State Senate before or after the November 8 elections, but there will be a few newly elected officials voting on the Cannabis Compassion Act in 2017.
On the other hand, Kentucky might need to worry about Republicans voting against marijuana legalization because many members of the GOP are not as anti-marijuana legalization as they were in the recent past.
For example, Atlantic quoted Bill Bennett, former Education Secretary under George W. Bush, at a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference, titled “Rocky Mountain High: Does Legalized Pot Mean Society’s Going Up In Smoke?” During the panel discussion in 2014, Bill Bennett said there “used to be a strong conservative coalition opposed to drugs.”
However, in 2014, it was clear to Bill Bennett and other GOP members that the conservative anti-marijuana legalization viewpoint was dissipating in the face of mounting public support for legalization. Bennett concluded with the sentiment that Republicans are “fighting against the tide” on the legal marijuana issue.
In the past, the issues with marijuana legalization in Kentucky in 2016 centered on behind-closed-doors meetings about the proposed law.
Two Kentucky state senators that were commonly quoted as being unsure about passing a marijuana legalization law in the state were John Schickel and Jimmy Higdon. Both of these senators are still in elected positions, and this means they will have another chance to vote on marijuana legalization in January, 2017.
For example, the last update about the 2016 marijuana legalization law in Kentucky was around September, according to WFPL. At that time, it was determined that the 2016 Cannabis Freedom Act was “assigned to a committee but never received a hearing.”
Kentucky state senator Jimmy Higdon was quoted at that time saying that he was not sure how the bill would manifest, and also said marijuana legalization might only be implemented for “end-of-life situations.”
Although Senator Jimmy Higdon’s remarks stand out, an attempt to push the 2017 Cannabis Compassion Act may not be futile despite it being denied in the past. For instance, it appears the Kentucky State Senate was expecting there to be another marijuana legalization bill to vote on in 2017.
In July, North Kentucky Tribune spoke with Kentucky state senator John Schickel, and he was paraphrased as saying that while the Cannabis Freedom Act “never made it to the Senate floor for a vote,” the issue is still considered relevant and “legislators want to further research the issue prior to the start of next year’s session in January .”
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, other pre-filed bills for Kentucky to vote on in 2017 include increasing penalties related to narcotics.
Lepp, age 64, hailed as a “marijuana martyr” by supporters
PUBLISHED: December 7, 2016 at 9:59 am | UPDATED: December 8, 2016 at 9:16 am
SAN FRANCISCO — Free after eight years of federal imprisonment, one of the nation’s most celebrated cannabis convicts came home to California on Wednesday, walking off a United Airlines flight into the warm embrace of supporters — and a profoundly changed world.
Charles “Eddy” Lepp, a defiant 64-year-old Vietnam vet and ordained Rastafarian minister, was convicted on federal felony charges in 2007 for doing something that California now considers legal because of last month’s passage of Proposition 64: growing marijuana.
“I’m very honored. I’m very humbled. Thank you so much for caring,” Lepp told friends and family at San Francisco International Airport, tears streaming down his creased cheeks.
Then he vowed to fight for national legalization of cannabis and presidential pardons for first-time nonviolent drug offenders.
“Just because I went to federal prison doesn’t mean I got off the horse,” said Lepp, who will be on drug-monitored probation for five years. “It is still a long, long ride — and I’ll be there when it’s done.”
In 1996 California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Since then 28 more states have approved the drug for medical use, with another eight, including California, allowing adults to use the drug recreationally. Unfortunately, Kentucky has been slow to adapt, despite the many benefits legalizing the drug would provide.
Back in the day, Kentucky used to thrive growing tobacco. That same land, rich for growing tobacco, is ideal for growing marijuana, which can also be used to produce hemp, a versatile product which can be manufactured into paper, textiles, clothing, food, plastic, and a multitude of other products.
Marijuana would also be useful as a medical alternative for many in the state who are dependent on prescription drugs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky has the highest cancer rates of any state in the country, largely due to our large dependence on the coal and mining industries, which has left countless hard-working Kentuckians with lung cancer. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has said that marijuana kills cancer cells along with alleviating the nausea and other symptoms associated with chemotherapy, which poses a much more effective alternative to prescription drugs.
With so much of our state crippled by a dying coal industry, legalizing marijuana would be an enormous jobs creator for people looking to farm the crop and others looking to get into the business side of the industry with dispensaries.
While stigmas still exist surrounding the drug, the issue of marijuana legalization is slowly becoming more of a bipartisan issue that draws support from both Democrats and Republicans, including Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who has said in the past that he plans to sign a medical marijuana bill into law during his time in office.
It has become a trend in the mainstream media to avoid one of the most pressing issues, not …
States that have approved the drug for recreational use, such as Colorado, tax the drug, and use the money in a variety of ways, from helping the homeless, to improving infrastructure and education. In 2016 alone, Colorado is expected to bring in over $1 billion in tax revenue from marijuana.
If a similar system of policy was applied in the Bluegrass, money could be used for better education throughout the state, a hot-button issue under Bevin’s administration due to his proposed, but unsuccessful, cuts to higher education. Revenue could also go towards helping revitalize eastern Ky. along with infrastructure, homeless, and veterans, following in the footsteps of Colorado’s successful endeavor with the green.
According to a 2012 poll by Kentucky Health Issues, 78 percent of Kentuckians support the legalization of medical marijuana. It’s time for our lawmaker’s throughout the state to come together and enact a policy to reflect the will of the people. The longer we wait, the more potential tax revenue we miss out on that could go to benefitting Kentuckians in need. It’s time to
“Make Kentucky Green Again!”