Is Foreign Money Buying Up Some of Michigan’s Corporate Cannabis State Grow Facilities and Dispensaries?
Who would have thought that God had corporations in mind when he said “I have given you every plant bearing seed on the surface of all the earth?”
I have been a Cannabis Activist for 50 years and a Journalist/Activist for at least 30 years. I just wanted adults to be able to “grow their own” without government interference and become the only source of Cannabis for our state dispensaries. Instead our legislators are setting up a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” in Michigan. And the same boilerplate is unfolding in CA, WA, CO, AZ and OR. As far as I’m concerned the people got screwed again. Rather than blather on let me refer you to a few of my recent essays which you can find at the links below.
===== The Coming War: Securing Our Right to Grow our own Cannabis from the Global Corporations BRUCE CAIN·SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 2018 1,231 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/the-coming-war-securing-our-right-to-grow-our-own-cannabis-from-the-global-corpo/2445909552101685/
Just Vote No on Michigan’s Cannabis Initiative: Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (November 2018) BRUCE CAIN·WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2018 419 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/just-vote-no-on-michigans-cannabis-initiative-regulate-marijuana-like-alcohol-no/2441433565882617/
The Global Marijuana March originated with International Drug Policy Day in May 1990. BRUCE CAIN·SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2018 582 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/the-global-marijuana-march-originated-with-international-drug-policy-day-in-may-/2393282000697774/
Why the Right to Grow Your Own Medical Cannabis Must Be Protected from “Tax, Regulate and Control” State Models BRUCE CAIN·TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2017 3,920 Reads https://www.facebook.com/notes/bruce-cain/why-the-right-to-grow-your-own-medical-cannabis-must-be-protected-from-tax-regul/1941658819193430/
The Complete Recent Essays of Bruce W. Cain https://www.facebook.com/bruce.cain.98/notes?lst=100000184321094%3A100000184321094%3A1536699785
This little bit of research began with a Facebook post from Adam Brook, who has been the Master of Ceremonies for the Hash Bash since 1989 to 2018. Here’s Adam’s Post:
Wild Bills gets DENIED! There is no Oasis!
Before I go on I want to briefly review my history with Adam Brook and the Hash Bash. The two of us have been involved, as Cannabis Activists, since around 1985. We were both instrumental in having the Hash Bash occur on the first Saturday in April rather than on April 1st. And we did that, around 1989, in order to increase attendance for what might be the longest running Annual Cannabis/Marijuana protest in US history. I have spoken at the Hash Bash nearly 15 times between 1990 and 2012 and Adam continues to MC the annual event. We’ve both been significant Cannabis Activists for many decades. So when he blocked me from his Facebook feed — after calling me a racist and xenophobe — I was taken aback. I am neither a racist, an Islamaphobe or a Xenophobe.
I grew up in Dearborn and have lived in the area for many decades. I’m not at all racist and have many great neighbors who happen to be Muslim. But all groups have their “bad actors.” The Jews had the Purple Gang. The Italians had the Mafia. And yes I do believe there is a fringe group of Muslims that are probably connected to Hezbolla – a Lebanese Shiite Terrorist group.
Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God By Matthew Levitt https://books.google.com/books?id=6QsxCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA323&lpg=PA323&dq=Zig-Zag+Counterfeit+Cigarette+Paper+Scheme+dearborn&source=bl&ots=UM1ExdVMVX&sig=xw__xZ5vpt5h6BG9YOYC7oznmmg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjI5aKwn7HdAhUMr4MKHdcVBQ8Q6AEwEHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Zig-Zag%20Counterfeit%20Cigarette%20Paper%20Scheme%20dearborn&f=false
And there was a Chaldean Mafia operating in Detroit in 2011.
As you read this essay, largely focusing on Wild Bills Tobacco Outlets, it is obvious that they have little respect for our laws (e.g., the ZigZag Conterfiet Racket, 2004) and one has to wonder where are the money came to set up 75 stores in Michigan and more recently 3 stores in Ohio. Apparently the state feels the same way as they denied giving Oasis a dispensary in Lansing for previous criminal activity [Sept. 10 2018].
Frankly I have no formed opinion on Wild Bills but there is plenty of data to suggest they are not choir boys. And that is how I will present it in my essay. I will lay out the facts and let my readers decide. With 75 stores and recent acquisitions, of grow facilities and dispensaries, I guesstimate there is already over 200 million dollars in total assets for Wild Bill’s. * $50 million for grow warehouses if CRMLA (Prop 1) passes in November 2018 * $150 million, at least, for there 78 “Wild Bill’s Tobacco Outlets. [I’m guesstimating $2 million per outlet]. * ??? The Oasis Wellness Centers. * ??? Salaries for workers across 78 Stores. And my big question is this: where did all this money come from? Are there foreign Chaldean investors behind this? Or is it just a bunch of “rich greedy assholes?” What is not in dispute is that Wild Bill’s is trying to corner the market in both Cannabis production and distribution. What is not in dispute is Wild Bill’s has stated that they want to put the home growers out of business. Fuck that.
Every group has their bad apples. And what I do not want to see is a Cannabis Mafia monopolize the Cannabis business, in Michigan, as the Italian Mafia once monopolized Alcohol. Frankly I want it to remain in the hands of small growers which is why I am imploring people to boycott Wild Bill’s while encouraging you to “grow your own” and put the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” — in Michigan and other states — out of business.
So let us begin disassembling this story by going back to Adam’s post.
Wild Bills gets DENIED! There is no Oasis!
Adam gave no link to any article describing “why” Wild Bills Tobacco got denied. And that began my research.
This is how Wild Bill’s Tobacco Website describes themselves:
===== About Wild Bill’s Tobacco
Wild Bill’s Tobacco, formerly known as Smokers Outlet, is the 5th largest tobacco retailer in the country. The first store opened in 1994 and the company slowly expanded to more than 60 stores over the next 22 years. At Wild Bill’s, we specialize in providing the best quality tobacco products at competitive prices all under one roof for the convenience of our customers.
Our stores are equipped with the largest well humidified walk in humidors containing fine cigars from across the world. Many of our locations have a lounge area where customers can relax and enjoy a fine cigar with friends. All staff members are trained and equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to assist the customer and provide exceptional service. http://www.wildbillstobacco.com/about/ =====
The 75 Stores are mainly in Michigan and there are 3 locations in Ohio. They are named both “Wild Bill’s and Mr. Vapor.
How Wild Bill’s Tobacco, Smokers Outlet Management and Oasis Wellness Centers are related
===== The top donor to the the current campaign, shown as giving a total of $150,000 as of June, is a company called Smokers Outlet Management in Troy, according to the campaign finance statements. The company owns 68 Wild Bill’s Tobacco shops across Michigan, its website says. But its plan is to use the name Oasis Wellness Centers to open a major chain of marijuana shops in Michigan, according to statements made to state lawmakers’ committees and summarized in a memo filed with the state House Judiciary Committee in 2015 by the company’s vice president, Paul Weisberger.
Top 6 Donors to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol:
1.) Smokers Outlet (chain of 68 Wild Bill’s Tobacco shops), Troy, $150,000
2.) Marijuana Policy Project (nonprofit with 32,000 members), Wash, D.C., $58,161
3.) Andrew Driver Jr. (with Advance Electric), Gaylord, $35,000
4.) David Kelley (investment banker), Traverse City, $10,000
5.) Alec Riffle (with Tree City Health Collective dispensary), Ann Arbor, $10,000
6.) Wholesale Hydroponics (store for marijuana growers), Lansing, $10,000
Michigan marijuana campaign brings together activists, moneyed investors, tobacco dealers
Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press Published 11:03 p.m. ET July 15, 2017
Wild Bill’s has some really big plans for Cannabis Grow and Distribution Facilities
Under the name, Oasis **, Wild Bill’s is willing to pay $21 million dollars for a 320,000 square foot building to 50 percent of the company’s dispensaries across the state. So we can project that they somehow have the capital to invest $40 to $50 million dollars to supply all their dispensaries. Are they planning to convert the 75 Wild Bill’s Tobacco stores into dispensaries. And gee where is all this money coming from?
===== BANGOR TWP, MI – The Bangor Township Board of Trustees have thrown their support behind bringing a medical marijuana grow and distribution facility to Bay County.
Trustees unanimously agreed at their meeting Tuesday, May 9, to support an investment of a grow and distribution facility. Before any type of industry comes to town, however, the township needs to update its code of ordinances.
About 50 people were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.
Oasis Wellness Center, based out of Clawson, Michigan, is interested in investing $21 million into the former Dow Chemical Co. and Crane Resistoflex building, 4675 E. Wilder Road.
During public input, Oasis Vice President Paul Weisberger said his company is looking to employ more than 100 people in the 320,000 square-foot building. Weisberger said Oasis is not currently in the medical marijuana field.
Bangor Township Supervisor Glenn Rowley said other companies have reached out to the township, although Oasis has been the most vocal.
Rowley said future board meetings will discuss ordinances and layout details.
“There’s one opportunity to do this right and we want to make sure we have that,” Rowley said. “We agree we are going forward on this.”
As part of the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act, which went into effect last December, application processes for licensed dispensaries is expected to be finalized by Dec. 31.
Bay County township supports medical marijuana facility Updated May 10, 2017; Posted May 9, 2017 https://www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2017/05/bangor_township_agrees_to_impl.html =====
===== BANGOR TOWNSHIP, MI — A medical marijuana company has approached Bangor Township about investing $21 million to purchase and convert an old factory building into a grow and distribution facility.
But before the controversial industry comes to town, the township’s board of trustees needs to throw its support behind it. A discussion takes place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Bangor Township Hall, 180 State Park Drive. It’s unclear at this time if the board is going to make any formal decisions on the matter Tuesday evening.
The company, which township officials are declining to name, hopes to purchase the old Dow Chemical Co. and Crane Resistoflex building at 4675 E. Wilder Road and hire 140 people to work at the plant. If plans come to fruition, the plant would supply medical marijuana to 50 percent of the company’s dispensaries across the state.
Medical marijuana company wants to invest millions into Bay County Updated May 6, 2017; Posted May 6, 2017 https://www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2017/05/medical_marijuana_bay_county_d.html =====
Wild Bill’s is denied a provisioning center in Lansing
===== Accordingly, the latest round of state approvals didn’t grant a license to a single Lansing-based business. Oasis Wellness Center of Lansing — with local approval for two local growing operations and two processing facilities — was denied for state prequalification for those and several other business enterprises across mid-Michigan.
City records indicate Oasis planned five local businesses centered around Beech and Hazel streets. The state board suggested the owner was arrested twice but failed to disclose that information in its state applications. The would-be shops were also turned down based on the poor “moral integrity” of the company’s founders.
State officials eye marijuana deadline extension [Sept. 10 2018]
Local licensing system remains stagnant amid statewide changes http://lansingcitypulse.com/article-16421-State-officials-eye-marijuana-deadline-extension.html =====
Who own’s Wild Bill’s Tobacco?
Mike Samona, CEO Justin Samona, Chief Marketing Officer Paul Weisberger, VP Oasis Wellness Centers
===== The best business news for Wild Bill’s Tobacco, based in Birmingham,Michigan, with 50 stores, was when the state of Michigan enacted a 50-cent tax cap on individual cigars at the end of2012. “It allowed us to be much more competitive with our online competitors last year, which led to an increase in sales,” explains Justin Samona, chief marketing officer. Wild Bill’s specializes in premium cigars, with cigar lounges in20 locations and walk-in humidors with Spanish cedar paneling and advanced humidification systems in all 50 stores.But the top trend in 2013 was the electronic cigarette craze in Wild Bill’s stores, just as it was across America,according to Samona. “We see the paradigm shift and we feel that e-cigs are here to stay,” he says. “Wild Bill’s is quickly becoming known as the electronic cigarette destination. Our stores are equipped with modern e-cig super centers, which we call ‘Mr. Vapor.’The chrome shelving and blue LED lights attract customers right when they enter the store. Customers can sample disposable e-cigs, rechargeable kits, tank kits, mod systems and over 100 different flavors of e-liquids and strengths.” In 2013, the chain improved its business through customer service management.“ The HR management team here launched many creative bonus and incentive plans,”Samona explained. One such plan that caused great excitement was the profit-sharing program, which is eligible to all managers that have been with the company for three or more years.The thinking behind it comes from Mike Samona, CEO. “When you have loyal, satisfied customers, your business becomes more referable, thus more profitable,” he says. “We’ve discovered that staff members will provide much better service to our customers, whether it’s through up-selling, converting or handling complaints, when they know a percentage of the profits will go to them.”
If I had to guess they are possibly Chaldean as that is a common Chaldean (Catholic) surname. But who knows.
Wild Bill’s got busted in 2005 when it used to go under the name Smoker’s Outlet. “Wild Bill’s Tobacco, formerly known as Smokers Outlet, is the 5th largest tobacco retailer in the country.” In this case nearly 30 of their stores were selling counterfeit “Zig Zag” rolling papers . . . for which they ultimately got caught and busted. What other illegality went under the radar?
===== BOLLORE S.A., Plaintiff, CIVIL ACTION NO. 04-CV-73867-DT vs. DISTRICT JUDGE ANNA DIGGS TAYLOR MADISON HEIGHTS TOBACCO MAGISTRATE JUDGE MONA K. MAJZOUB https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-mied-2_04-cv-73867/pdf/USCOURTS-mied-2_04-cv-73867-0.pdf =====
Next look at all the defendants (e.g. law breakers) in this case and take note of all the businesses owned by Wild Bills or Smokers Outlet Management that owns Wild Bills. And finally look at the names: many of which suggest Middle Eastern ancestry. Possibly Chaldean?
Habib Ajame, Defendant Mahmoud Ajami, Defendant Alsahil Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Amazing Dollar, Defendant Amazing Dollar of Highland, Defendant Steve Bahri, Defendant Baldwin Mini Mart, Incorporated, Defendant Bemis Road Service Station, Incorporated, Defendant Citgo Gas Station, 496 Main Street, Defendant Dina’s Dollar, Incorporated, Defendant Divon, Incorporated, Defendant Dort Highway 200, Incorporated, Defendant Edward Eid, Defendant Eid Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Mary Fawaz, Defendant Flint Tobacco, Incorporated, Defendant Joseph O. Garmo, Defendant Samer Hanna, Defendant Aoun Jaber, Defendant Jaber’s, Incorporated, Defendant John’s Marathon, Incorporated, Defendant Madison Heights Tobacco, Incorporated, Defendant Main Street Express, Incorporated, Defendant Marci, Incorporated, Defendant Mega Mile Gas and Mart, Defendant Awatif Misho, Defendant North Pointe Marathon, Incorporated, Defendant R and S Food and Gas, Incorporated, Defendant SAC Investment, Incorporated, Defendant John Samouna, Defendant Luke Samouna, Defendant Mazin Samouna, Defendant Saza, Incorporated, Defendant Shadia Enterprises, Incorporated, Defendant Shell Gas Station, 1220 North Wayne Road, Defendant Shell Gas Station, 28851 Hoover Road, Defendant Gurdial N. Singh, Defendant Roy Sitto, Defendant Smokers Discount, Defendant Smokers Outlet Management, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Centerline, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Centerline, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Eastpointe, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Eastpointe, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Ferndale, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Ferndale, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Hazel Park, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Hazel Park, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Highland, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Madison Heights, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Roseville, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Roseville, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Shelby Township, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Shelby Township, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights II, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Sterling Heights, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Taylor, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Troy, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Troy, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Warren II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Warren II, Incorporated, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Waterford II, Defendant Smokers Outlet of Waterford II, Incorporated, Defendant Speedy’s Gas and Groceries, Incorporated, Defendant Sunoco Gas Station, 3142 Miller Road, Defendant Sunoco Gas, 3000 East Eight Mile Road, Defendant Sunoco Gas, 6401 West Eight Mile Road, Defendant Sunoco-Miller Road/1-75, Defendant Super Mobil, Defendant Tobacco Road, Defendant Tobacco Road, Ltd, IV, Defendant Webb Operating Company, Defendant Charles A. Zain, Defendant Bollore, S. A., Plaintiff North Atlantic Operating Company, Incorporated, Plaintiff North Atlantic Trading Company, Incorporated, Plaintiff https://www.gpo.gov/…/USCOURTS-mied…/content-detail.html
More bribes and criminality as the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” gets ready to put all the small growers out of business
===== The U.S. Attorney’s office has indicted three would-be Michigan medical cannabis dispensary owners, accusing them of attempting to bribe officials in Garden City to approve their license, the Detroit Free Press reports. Brothers Mike and Ali Baydoun, along with their nephew Jalal Baydoun, are accused of offering bribes to the three city council members, the mayor, and the police chief.
Federal authorities say the Baydouns handed an envelope with $15,000 to a city council official – $5,000 each – in December and offered to buy the city a police car, pay a police officer’s annual salary, and give the officials a 25 percent cut of the dispensary’s profits. The councilor handed the envelope of cash over to the FBI. The indictment also alleges that the family said they would put $150,000 in an escrow account that would be used to pay additional bribes.
Under the city’s medical cannabis ordinance, only two cultivation licenses are available and the accused were hoping the bribes would convince officials to amend the rules, add another license, and award it to them, allowing them to grow 1,500 medical cannabis plants in the city.
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment further on the investigation or who else from the State might be suspected of colluding with the Baydouns.
U.S. Attorney’s Office Indicts Three for Attempting to Bribe Michigan Officials for MMJ License 8/04/2017 https://www.ganjapreneur.com/us-attorneys-office-indicts-three-attempting-bribe-michigan-officials-mmj-license/ =====
A Short History of Wild Bill’s Strategy to Monopolize “Corporate Cannabis” in Michigan
If you are from others states expect the same crap to play out: the Rich Ganjapreneurs — like Wild Bill’s — will soon be pushing to prohibit adults to “grow their own” in their homes. To put it in the simplest of terms the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” — both the State Government and the Approved Millionaire Ganjapreneurs — don’t want any competition. In future years “your” Wild Bill may come in the form of a Microsoft Executive, Big Pharma or possible a foreigner with deep pockets. But if we don’t stop this crap everyone is going to see a “Wild Bill” coming to monopolize the market in your state eventually. “Money talks, bullshit walks.”
1994: Wild Bill’s (under the original name “Smokers Outlet”) opens there first store.
2004: Wild Bill’s (under the original name “Smokers Outlet”) get busted for selling counterfiet ZigZag rolling papers at nearly 30 of its stores throughout Michigan.
2015: Wild Bill’s announces its intent to open a major chain of marijuana shops in Michigan, according to statements made to state lawmakers’ committees and summarized in a memo filed with the state House Judiciary Committee in by the company’s vice president, Paul Weisberger.
===== Excepts from Weisberger’s Letter: (Vice President of Wild Bill’s Oasis Wellness Centers)
“We believe that the grow operation needed to supply consistent, high quality medical marijuana should be based in a larger scale “commercial grow” type model.” [What I call a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly.”]
“This would allow for a consistent and cost effective supply of product while at the same time moving the grow operations out of our neighborhoods.”
“We must bring this above ground and out of the neighborhoods through a commercial grow operation that provides consistent lower cost medical marijuana.” [05/07/2015]
RE: Michigan House Judiciary Committee; House Bills 4209 and 4210 From: Paul Weisberger, vice president, Wild Bill’s Oasis Wellness Centers http://house.michigan.gov/sessiondocs/2015-2016/testimony/Committee339-5-7-2015-5.pdf =====
2016: (December) The Legislature passed laws to tax,regulate and control the market: to create what I call the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly.” Once in place (October 2018?) the vast number of small growers — who sold their overage to local dispensaries and “patients” — will become instant criminals if they continue to sell without a license none of them can afford. In practical terms it will cost literally millions to “get into this game.”
2017: (May) Wild Bill’s offers $21 Million for a 320,000 square-foot building in Bangor Township to supply just 50% of it’s projected dispensaries.
2017: (July) Wild Bill’s becomes the top donor to the CRMLA Initiative ($150,000)
2017: (Sept) Wild Bill’s (Oasis) Gets on one of the 5 working groups (growers) regulated by the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) for the State of Michigan.
===== Per the August 22 statement from LARA/BMMR, almost 750 applications were received and of those, more than 550 were valid and complete. From that huge pool of citizens the Departments have selected the advisory groups who will make recommendations to LARA for rules governing the different business types; LARA is not obligated to honor the recommendations.
Michigan: LARA Announces Medical Marijuana Workgroup Members September 27, 2017, 8:00 am Rick Thompson Medical Marijuana https://www.weednews.co/michigan-lara-announces-medical-marijuana-workgroup-members/ =====
2018: Wild Bill’s now has 75 Stores in Michigan and 3 in Ohio
2018: (Sept) Wild Bill’s is denied a provisioning center in Lansing because the owner had 2 arrests and because of the “poor moral integrity” of the company’s founders.
2018: (July) Michigan awards the first 7 Medical Marijuana Licences for the “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” — which was put in motion through legislation in December 2016.
===== Michigan awards first medical marijuana licenses Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press Published July 12, 2018 https://www.freep.com/story/news/marijuana/2018/07/12/medical-marijuana-michigan/779840002/ =====
2018: (Nov) If Prop 1 (CRMLA) passes, in November’s Election, those that get a “Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly” licence stand to profit from a $700 million dollar industry while all the smaller growers will become instant criminals if they continue to grow or sell to groups or individuals. This is what Wild Bill’s and all the other Millionaire Ganjapreneurs are betting on. That is why Wild Bill gave more money than anyone else ($150,000) to get it passed.
The Corporate Cannabis State Monopoly will probably be operational in the next year. And once it becomes fully operational you can expect an increase in arrests and home invasions for home growers. The State will want all the profits from “seed to sale” and will therefore be incentivized to put the small growers out of business: regardless of whether they are growing for themselves or continuing to sell their overage.
Meanwhile you just have to wonder where Wild Bill’s is coming up with 50 million dollars to buy growing facilities and millions more for their dispensaries. And where did the Baydoun’s come up with $150,000 dollars in bribes to open a dispensary in Westland, MI. Could some of this money be coming from Terrorist organizations or other crime syndicates?
When my friend Jack Herer died in 2009 he could not have foreseen this nightmare. It was not what either of us had hoped for. I really thought I had retired from this fools crusade but I seem compelled to carry on. Perhaps the best solutions is to encourage everyone to “grow their own” and put these “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies” out of business.
I also want to make clear that I don’t really know that Wild Bills is a criminal syndicate. I do know that it took me hours to find the little information that I did find on their operation. But where is all of this money coming from? I am no nearer answering THAT question than when I began. And Wild Bill’s is but one of many groups that want to get into these “Corporate Cannabis State Monopolies. Frankly they all deserve thorough investigation. Until that happens — which it never will — let me just say:
Grow Your Own.
Destroy the Corporate Cannabis Beast.
We cannot allow our government to take away our right to grow a plant the really belongs to all of us.
Please share this essay and others that I have written on Cannabis Policy. We cannot allow this to end this way.
Please be advised! Opinions expressed in either submitted articles or comments belong solely to the writer and are not necessarily the opinion of the website(s) owner(s). They are presented in order to allow all opinions to be expressed fairly and equally.
The long-awaited first meeting of the US House/Senate Conference Committee on the 2018 Farm Bill will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, September 5, at 9:30 AM.
9 Senators and 47 Congressmen will sit down for the first time to try to reconcile the differences between the two versions of the bill, with the hopes of final passage by September 30, when the 2014 Farm Bill expires.
As summarized here, prospects are bright that the House will agree to the Senate’s hemp provisions, which would permanently establish hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act.
Hemp’s most powerful advocate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has even taken the rare step of appointing himself to the conference committee to better ensure that the provisions he inserted remain in the final compromise.
Enter your zip code into our simple online portal here, and if any of your Members of Congress serve on the conference committee, an editable email will be populated for you to urge them to support hemp. For those of your representatives who are not on the committee, the portal will prepare an email urging them to contact conference committee members in support of the Senate provisions.
Finally, our General Counsel, Jonathan Miller, will be on hand reporting LIVE from the hearing room via Facebook Live and Periscope. If you would like to receive his live reports, or a video soon after, please follow us on Facebook here and/or Twitter here.
Today, the Senate named their representatives to the House/Senate conference committee for the 2018 Farm Bill. Here’s the full list of House and Senate conferees.
In a rare move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell named himself to the conference committee – meaning he will be in the room when the permanent fate of hemp is decided.
As a reminder, the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill contains the Hemp Farming Act, sponsored by Leader McConnell and co-sponsored by a bi-partisan coalition of more than two-dozen Senators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The House version is silent on hemp.
The House/Senate conference committee will resolve the differences between the two bills – and McConnell will be twisting arms to ensure the Senate hemp language prevails.
He needs our help.
We’ve re-formatted our online portal to empower you to help get hemp across the finish line. Input your zip code, and our portal will determine whether your Congressman and/or Senators serve on the conference committee. If so, with a few keystrokes, you can send them a personalized email urging them to support the Hemp Farming Act language. The portal will also enable you to send a message to your Members of Congress who don’t serve on the conference committee to urge them to reach out to their colleagues that do.
In just a few minutes, you can make a real difference. Please link to our portal below and have your say NOW. And please share this message and this call to action with your friends, colleagues, customers, and social media contacts today.
Our grassroots army helped kill the misguided Grassley Amendment a few weeks ago. Now, together, we can extinguish Hemp Prohibition. Forever.
One woman faces charges for hemp-derived cannabidiol oil despite its recent presence in local grocers
JACKSON HOLE, WY – A woman driving through Jackson, Wyoming, on her way to Montana left with a life-changing souvenir. On July 8, Anita Maddux, 50, was charged with a felony for possessing a 10-milliliter sample bottle of cannabidiol (CBD) oil from Cid’s, a Taos, New Mexico, health food store. Now Maddux could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine pending an August hearing.
Independent of that incident, local and state law enforcement showed up to Lucky’s Market and Jackson Whole Grocer two weeks later to inform those stores that CBD products were illegal to sell if they contained any amount of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Both stores have since removed those products from their shelves.
Most CBD oil sold in stores like Lucky’s and JWG purport to contain .3 percent (or less) THC, an amount that does not have mind-altering effects as outlined in the 2014 federal Farm Bill. Third party lab analysis obtained by Planet Jackson Hole shows that Maddux’s CBD oil was under that threshold at .06 total THC.
Indeed, as other states loosen cannabis laws and federal lawmakers sponsor legislation to do the same, Wyoming remains a dubious place to possess a hemp-derived product with even trace amounts of THC. It is a felony offense in Wyoming to sell, buy or possess more than .03 grams of CBD oil that contains any amount of THC. However, manufacturers maintain that if their product contains traces of up to .3 percent it is perfectly legal, sowing confusion for state residents and retailers.
At Cid’s, Maddux worked as an herbalist in the health and wellness department where she received a sample shipment of CBD oil from Functional Remedies. The Colorado company’s CBD oil was on the shelves at Lucky’s Market in Jackson when she was arrested.
Lucky’s did not return several requests for comment nor did Functional Remedies.
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants with a slew of reported health benefits. The Food and Drug Administration just approved it to treat epilepsy in the form of the new drug Epidiolex. (Wyoming does allow people with intractable epilepsy to use CBD oil under the care of a licensed neurologist.)
Cannabidiol may also treat everything from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s to depression, anxiety, inflammation and pain, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence also recently said CBD does not have abuse or dependence potential.
It seems more of CBD’s potential health benefits are emerging by the day. According to a study published July 30, mice with pancreatic cancer that were treated with CBD and chemotherapy lived three times longer than mice treated with chemotherapy alone.
For her part, Maddux was using the oil for chronic back pain—she has a missing disc between her L1 and L2 vertebrae. CBD oil, she said, had brought her some relief, though she took it only sporadically.
Before her drive from New Mexico to Montana to care for her mother who has stage four colon cancer, Maddux placed the sample bottle in her bag and didn’t give it another thought.
Classification and Confusion
Despite the WHO’s recent findings, in the United States, CBD is a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the federal government does not recognize its medicinal uses and considers it to have a high likelihood for abuse.
That classification hasn’t stopped its proliferation.
CBD oil has fueled a multimillion dollar industry online and at health food stores across the country. In September 2017, the retail giant Target was the first mega-chain to dip its toes into the cannabidiol waters. It wasn’t a pioneer for long, though. It pulled the products from its online shelves after just a few weeks. One month later, Lucky’s made the leap, becoming the first chain natural grocer to carry CBD products.
So why are mom and pop health stores and some chain retailers carrying the products if they are illegal?
For one thing, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration hasn’t been shy about its indifference.
“While CBD currently is still Schedule 1, with our limited resources marijuana has not been our highest priority,” Barbara Carreno, a spokesperson for the DEA, told Planet Jackson Hole. “It is not a priority like opioids or synthetics which are killing people.”
What’s more, Carreno said everything could change when the DEA schedules Epidiolex for medical use on September 24. A plant or botanical could have both uses that are legal and safe and uses that are not, Carreno said. As an example, she pointed to the opium poppy: “you get heroin and oxycodone from that.”
Marijuana, meanwhile, “is a plant with many extracts, THC is one and CBD is another,” she said. “CBD has a small amount of THC but it is very, very low.”
But the overarching reason manufacturers are producing and selling these products en masse is because of the 2014 Farm Bill. That bill legalized the production of hemp under state pilot programs as long as those hemp products contain less than .3 percent THC.
Under the Farm Bill, 40 states have legalized hemp programs including Wyoming. Its program is slated to begin in 2019. That confuses matters because as Wyoming works to implement a hemp cultivation program, it is still illegal to sell or possess hemp products in the state if they contain THC.
The federal program has some legal experts arguing Maddux wasn’t in the wrong. “As long as hemp was grown as part of a state pilot program (like Maddux’s Functional Remedies CBD oil) then it is federally legal,” said Jonathan Miller, general counsel to the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. That means Maddux “is allowed to take it across state lines,” he said.
Miller said Maddux’s case is the first he has heard of someone being charged for carrying a vial of CBD oil. In fact, from his experience, in cases where people have been arrested for possession of both marijuana and CBD the “CBD was thrown out.”
Wyoming cannabis law, Miller continued, is confusing. “It is quite unfortunate law enforcement would take that confusing law and charge someone for having a product that has virtually no THC and which the World Health Organization has classified as harmless,” he said. “I would hope law enforcement was focusing instead on drugs that kill people.”
On the national stage, Congress is moving in a direction that would remove hemp (cannabis containing less than .3 percent THC) from its classification as a Schedule I controlled substance. Sen. Mitch McConnell–R, Kentucky, is leading that charge with the 2018 Hemp Farming Act. It handily passed in the Senate 86-11 on June 28.
Wyoming, though, is fond of bucking national trends, especially when it comes to cannabis. The state has a tight grip on cannabis laws even as public opinion swings drastically in the other direction.
For example, more than 80 percent of Wyomingites say they want to see the legalization of medicinal marijuana and 60 percent oppose jailing people for marijuana offenses, according to a 2016 survey by the University of Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center.
Jackson Whole Grocer herbalist Heather Olson agrees with those sentiments. She also believes in CBD’s long list of supposed health benefits and was unhappy to remove products from the shelves. But Olson said there is a problem with certain companies. She said officials from Wyoming’s Division of Criminal Investigation told her some of the products they tested carried higher levels of THC than what was indicated on the label.
But Wyoming’s crime lab—where DCI tests substances—cannot actually test for specific amounts of THC.
The Un-wild West
Local law enforcement has been in contact with Wyoming’s Division of Criminal Investigation since fall 2017 when Lucky’s and Jackson Whole Grocer began carrying CBD oil. Jackson Chief of Police Todd Smith “reached out to us and asked us for some help because these products were being sold,” said Ronnie Jones of DCI. “Then we discovered this was going on across the state.”
Since then, Jones said DCI has been visiting retail stores and conducting investigations to confirm whether those CBD products contain THC.
Local law enforcement says as long as state law dictates it, they will enforce CBD’s prohibition. “I am duty-bound to uphold those laws,” Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen said. “Clearly, if we were to talk philosophy, I might talk differently,” he added.
Whalen did not seem convinced Maddux’s felony charge would stick. He suspected it would be pleaded down and pointed to his department’s lenient proclivities. “In terms of misdemeanors, we would prefer to write a citation and send people on their way, which is different than many municipalities.”
Law enforcement is indeed “duty-bound” by laws set forth by the Wyoming Legislature. But cannabis advocates, like Laramie attorney and Wyoming House Minority Whip Charles Pelkey–D, Laramie, point to the state’s law enforcement as a barrier to softening cannabis laws.
Wyoming Rep. Stan Blake–D, Green River, “has introduced bills to make CBD oil readily available but we have gotten opposition from the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police that any THC is a violation of the law,” Pelkey said.
It is true that sheriff and police associations throughout the country have pushed back against cannabis laws. Some point to Colorado’s rising crime rates since the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, though it is unclear if the two are related. Police Chief Smith said the notion that sheriffs and chiefs could hold that type of sway in the Legislature is absurd. “Law enforcement inherits the law from the Legislature,” he said. “We may get to testify our professional opinion but for any legislator to blame it on us is a cop out.”
I Fought the Law…
Maddux, meanwhile, is biding her time in Montana, caring for her ailing mother and going to job interviews. She does not dispute the reason why she was initially pulled over, which had nothing to do with CBD oil.
On Sunday, July 8, Teton County Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Wilcox noticed her expired California license plate and pulled Maddux over. She was also driving without insurance and an expired license. Maddux said she has led a simple life and didn’t have the money to address those issues before hitting the road. “My plan was to just get to Montana, to be with my family and take care of everything there,” she said.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Wilcox asked Maddux if she could pay an $850 fine for the tickets or appear in court on July 31. The affidavit stated Maddux said she could do neither. She didn’t think her brutal honesty would land her in jail, Maddux said. “I have never been pulled over before. So I thought the best thing to do was just to be honest about my situation.” Indeed, a July 30 background check on Maddux showed she has had no prior run-ins with the law.
After he deemed her “a flight risk” because she could not pay the fines and was likely to not appear in court, Wilcox arrested Maddux.
At Teton County jail, personnel found her CBD oil and used a NIK test to determine the presence of THC. NIK tests are “rudimentary,” as Smith put it, however. They only confirm the mere presence of THC, not the actual amount. The oil, then, was sent to Wyoming’s crime lab for “analysis” and Maddux sat in jail for roughly 36 hours. She was released on a $1,000-dollar bond.
Life has already changed for Maddux. To help pay for an attorney, she sold her car for $550 and is now relying on the generosity of friends to make ends meet. Maddux worries the volunteer and service work that has become a large part of her identity will no longer be an option if she is convicted of a felony. She worked as a disaster relief volunteer in Haiti after its 2010 earthquake and in the Philippines after its 2013 typhoon.
She also volunteered as a yoga instructor teaching yoga to inmates in Oregon prisons. Maddux’s experience in Jackson has her wondering about some of those inmates and their predicaments. That is to say, had she lacked the resources and life experience to question what happened and obtain a lawyer, she could have slipped through the cracks of the legal system, she said.
While local law enforcement seems confident that a felony will not stick on her record, Maddux said in the meantime she agonizes about her August 16 hearing. Her life “has been thrown into upheaval.”
Nick Maahs | July 28, 2018 | 5:56am
Cannabidiol enthusiasm is reaching a fever pitch in Colorado. Consumers snarf CBD down in doughnuts, slurp it up with CBD-infused lattes, lather it on with lotions, gulp it down in capsules and, of course, puff it the old-fashioned way with high-CBD pot strains. But while the CBD craze consumes Colorado, CBD remains illegal in many American markets, since it is still labeled by the DEA’s Schedule I as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
But there is a loophole: for CBD that is not derived from cannabis. And the Peak Health Foundation took advantage of that loophole to create Real Scientific Humulus Oil (RHSO-K), a CBD oil derived from the kriya brand humulus plant. Because that plant is a variety of hop, not cannabis, the oil is legal in this country.
Discovered by Bomi Joseph in the Silk Road region of northern India, kriya brand humulus is naturally endowed with a high concentration of CBD because the hop plants cross-pollinate with wild cannabis plants that grow nearby. Peak Health, a San Francisco holistic medicine center where Joseph is the director, extracts a CBD oil from these plants that’s dubbed ImmunAG.
Though his discovery and cross-breeding of kriya brand humulus may be a fresh development, the plant’s story dates back to the mid-1800s when John Sullivan was a British governor in the southern part of India. Sullivan was ahead of his time, Joseph says: “He believed in natural health; he believed in natural curing. And he was powerful, right, he had the British government, they ruled India. He could do what he wanted. He made an estate called Stone House in a place called Ooty — it’s a cool-climate, hilled station in the southern part of India — and he had the British soldiers bring plants from all over the country and plant them there.”
Sullivan’s Stone House became a sanatorium for the British. When they felt sick or in need of some rest and relaxation, they would go there, taking solace in the hills. Years later, researchers identified a variety of humulus yunnanensis at Stone House that was useful in treating malaria.
“That got my attention,” Joseph says, “because normally when people talk about yunnanensis, they talk about China, the Yunnan province. So the fact that in the southern part of India, where my family is historically from, you find this humulus yunnanensis, I was like, ‘How the hell did it get there?'”
He was determined to find out. Then Ari Cohen, one of his colleagues at Peak Health, found a reference to the yunannensis plant at a symposium given by India‘s Central Food Technological Research Institute. Their analysis of the plant discovered traces of cannabinoids.
Joseph cites this as his first tip. “I knew that there was a chance of this [cannabis-humulus cross-pollination] actually happening,” Joseph recalls, so he headed to northern India and started searching. “In the beginning it was hard, because the native tribes people there, they’re all sitting and looking at me like, ‘What is this crazy guy doing?’ They’re like the porters, we had hired them and they’re wandering around chewing betel nut, drinking their rice wine and sitting around looking at me. For a few weeks it was crazy, but then I finally showed them what we’re looking for. Once they got it, they were just taking me here, taking me there, showing me this, showing me that. I was like, ‘No, no, no,’ but then we found it. It started getting faster and faster. Once they found some and we found some, then we started getting samples. But we looked at thousands of samples before we found one or two that had CBD in it.”
A mature pod on a kriya humulus plant Kathryn Reinhardt, CMW Media
After that, though, “We were in good shape,” Joseph says. “Then it was just a matter of grunt work and effort,” cross-breeding the plants (in which CBD is a recessive trait) until they’d created a dependable, high-CBD concentration variety.
Joseph’s kriya brand humulus is a variety of humulus yunnanensis, one of three species of the humulus genus. Distinct from humulus lupulus — a different species of hop, the one from which the female flowers (known as hops, plural) are used to make beer — humulus yunnanensis is native to the Yunnan province in southern China, along the Indian border. Here, the plant was able to cross-pollinate with wild cannabis, as both genera are members of the same family of flowering plants, cannabaceae. This endowed kriya brand humulus with trace amounts of CBD and, in some cases, THC. Avoiding the latter, Joseph and his team meticulously selected and cross-bred plants with high concentrations of CBD until they arrived at a variety — kriya brand humulus — with an 18 percent CBD concentration. Joseph holds a patent for this as well as the modification of any other humulus plant to produce CBD and cannabinoids.
Through a partnership with distributor Medical Marijuana Inc. (which previously made headlines as the first publicly traded cannabis company in the U.S.), what’s now known as ImmunAG is combined with medium-chain triglyceride oil to form RSHO-K. Last month, Medical Marijuana Inc. made the product available to consumers nationwide via its online store.
Since it’s free of THC and the cumbersome legal baggage of cannabis, RSHO-K gives Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana Inc., high hopes. Beyond simply filling gaps in the U.S. CBD market, he expects the product to have an international impact. “This is certainly going to help change the dialogue for not only many parents whose children have epilepsy,” he says, “but various other world markets which still, of course, consider cannabis part of the United Nations single convention treaty on narcotics.”
Looking back, Joseph is grateful for his luck. “If John Sullivan hadn’t planted it and if a mention had not been made of it, I don’t know if we would have had a clue,” he says. “He did something that made it stick out and that led us to it. I’m sitting here in my office in Los Gatos, a fancy little place. I’ve got 500 megabit WiFi speeds; I can Google anything. But the reality is, we haven’t studied more than 4 percent of all the plants that are out there. If I want to go beyond the 4 percent, I’ve got to go to the Amazon jungles, the Himalayan mountains; there’s no other way. We’ve got to go get bitten by mosquitoes, chewed up by leeches and deal with the heat and humidity, there’s no other way.”
Please view video above.
Following the passing of the 2014 Farm bill, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture launched the Industrial Hemp Research Program that would allow farmers and processors to begin the development of an industry. LINK
There has been some disconcerting news showing up on social media in the past few days. It seems the DEA may be trying to push buttons…
They picked the right words for it, “Hemp Research” Bill, because that is exactly what they have been doing since the research started…using our Farmer’s to start an industry that they damn well knew they would not let them keep for very long. The idea is to let the Farmer’s do the work for the start-up so that they think that they are accomplishing a great feat, (which they are), and then yank it right out from under them via the DEA and hand it over to the Pharmaceutical Conglomerates where they can make big money by controlling our access to the Cannabis plant.
The fact is that it was not “Marijuana” that they were worried about infiltrating the Nation, it was controlling the Hemp – and now the CBD. Marijuana is just the control button so to speak.
It all comes back around to the NWO and Agenda 21 to control the masses. (If you control the food – and medicine, you control the people). But first they want to make sure that everyone wants and/or needs what they are going to take control of. Once the market starts to bloom, it’s time to take it back.
I first noticed a problem about two months ago when Stripe discontinued merchant services for the U.S. Marijuana Party, stating it was a prohibited business. I sell nothing but T-Shirts, lol. I went to my bank and asked them about it and sure enough, they weren’t accepting any “marijuana related” business either. So, I have no way to sell T-Shirts online at this time. Unless I want an offshore bank account!
On July 18th, Brady Bell broke the news that USPS was, as of the 17th “…ceasing all shipping of hemp/CBD products. The inspector said they are going to start confiscating any products that violate their stance…”
And so it begins…
Jaime Rothensteinenheimer is feeling heartbroken
I was arrested for multiple felonies at 1pm Wednesday July 18, 2018 in KNOX County Tennessee for possessing Industrial Hemp. My charges are Possession of Sched 6 drugs with Intent to Deliver (marijuana). The COA and 3rd Party Lab Reports were with the hemp products. I was forced to sleep on the porch of a Fireplace Store in Sevierville, TN until the impound opened to retrieve my vehicle. I am being arraigned tomorrow morning at 10am in Knox County Courthouse for Multiple felony charges.
On Wednesday July 18, 2018 at 11am the DEA raided my suppliers warehouses in SC and FL, took controlled samples for testing and went about their business. No charges yet . On Friday July 20,2018 the Atlantic Beach Police Dept had me sign a form to allow the Search of my business, Terp Market and Lounge, due to the City Commission claiming that “nefarious” characters were coming and going. I complied and the detectives were very polite. It still grinds my gears that we are doing positive things in the community and are getting treated like criminals over a PLANT. LINK
As an industry we have to take a stand. I now know why this is happening. GW Pharmaceuticals are the reason behind this with their lobbying efforts. It’s time the industry takes a stand and we file a class action lawsuit on GW Pharmaceuticals. I have the plan in motion. I will be reaching out to owners and anyone else that wants to join the battle. Feel free to email me, Brady@purespectrumcbd.com. We have the legal team and direction. The rest will require unity. LINK
EVERYONE in the CANNABIS business, whether legal or not, whether it is Hemp or Marijuana/Cannabis that you sell, or USE for medicine or recreationally, should pay very close attention to what is happening right now. The quality of Our lives very much depends upon what happens with Cannabis.
Please read the above linked article.
On my end, I am concerned about the control of Cannabis/Hemp and the regulations which will follow legalization and what it means to the prison industrial complex. I am concerned about the right to grow a Cannabis plant in my yard and use it personally for medicine and pleasure. I am concerned about all the children and other people who were so wrongly denied the Cannabis plant since 1937 and before, who so badly needed it as a medication, which was ALREADY IN THE PHARMACOPEIA IN 1900’S, but that the Government pulled out from under them in the name of commerce.
Cannabis, Hemp, Marijuana are all born from the same species. Don’t let them divide us!
NEVER say legalize! ALWAYS push for REPEAL of the CANNABIS Plant as a “whole”…
When it is freed to the People of this Country, and it is no longer a crime to possess or grow on our own property, or use in our own homes, and the Hemp Farmers are free to grow and sell their Hemp plants AND products, then it can be produced by the Pharma’s as a medication and THEIR products can be labeled as “CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES”!
Until then, Pharma should not be allowed to profit, or produce, any Cannabis medications!
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) is conducting an Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program as authorized by KRS 260.850-260.869, and 7 U.S.C.§ 5940 (also known as Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill). Industrial hemp plants, leaf, floral materials, and viable seed materials remain a Schedule I Controlled Substance under state and federal law; no person can grow, handle, broker, or process industrial hemp in Kentucky without a license issued by the KDA. For more information on applications, please visit the Applications for the Hemp Program page. Industrial Hemp is a Controlled Substance and requires a KDA License to Grow, Handle, Process, or Market LINK
Tom Angell , Contributor
The non-psychoactive cannabis cousin of marijuana would finally become legal to grow in the United States under a bill overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.
The wide-ranging agriculture and food policy legislation known as the Farm Bill, passed by a vote of 86 – 11 on Thursday, contains provisions to legalize the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp.
The move, championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would also make hemp plants eligible for crop insurance.
“Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp,” McConnell said in a floor speech on Thursday. “But due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It’s left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreign-produced hemp.”
McConnell also took to the Senate floor on Tuesday and Wednesday to tout the bill’s hemp legalization provisions in separate speeches.
In April, the GOP leader introduced standalone legislation to legalize hemp, the Hemp Farming Act, the provisions of which were included in the larger Farm Bill when it was unveiled earlier this month.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved the bill by a vote of 20-1 two weeks ago.
During that committee markup, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), one of Congress’s most ardent opponents of marijuana law reform, threatened to pursue serious changes to the bill’s hemp provisions on the floor. Namely, he wanted to remove the legalization of derivatives of the cannabis plant, such as cannabidiol (CBD), which is used by many people for medical purposes. But Grassley never ended up filing a floor amendment, allowing hemp supporters to avoid a contentious debate and potentially devastating changes to the bill.
Hemp legalization enjoys broad bipartisan support.
“Legalizing hemp nationwide ends decades of bad policymaking and opens up untold economic opportunity for farmers in Oregon and across the country,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said upon passage of the Farm Bill on Thursday. “Our bipartisan legislation will spur economic growth in rural communities by creating much-needed red, white and blue jobs that pay well. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues to get the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act through the Senate. Today marks a long-overdue, huge step forward for American-grown hemp.”
BIG news for industrial hemp farming! Today, the Senate passed my bipartisan #HempFarmingAct, legislation that would lift a decades-old ban on growing industrial hemp on American soil. #RonReport pic.twitter.com/r0fBzseRIh
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) June 28, 2018
Earlier this month, the Senate approved a nonbinding resolution recognizing hemp’s “growing economic potential.”
“For the first time in 80 years, this bill legalizes hemp. We forget, but hemp was widely grown in the United States throughout the mid-1800s,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) said in a floor speech on Wednesday. “Americans used hemp in fabrics, wine, and paper. Our government treated industrial hemp like any other farm commodity until the early 20th century, when a 1937 law defined it as a narcotic drug, dramatically limiting its growth. This became even worse in 1970 when hemp became a schedule I controlled substance. In Colorado, as is true across the country–I have talked to a lot of colleagues about this–we see hemp as a great opportunity to diversify our farms and manufacture high-margin products for the American people.”
McConnell’s standalone hemp bill currently has 29 cosponsors signed on—17 Democrats, nine Republicans and two independents.
A Congressional Research Service report released last week says that the “global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products.”
House Republican leaders blocked a vote to make hemp legalization part of that chamber’s version of the Farm Bill. But now that the language is included in the version approved by the Senate, it will be part of discussions by the bicameral conference committee that will merge both chambers’ bills into a single piece of legislation to be send to President Trump’s desk. All indications are that McConnell, as the most powerful senator, will fight hard for the survival of his hemp proposal.
A White House statement of administration policy released this week outlining concerns with the Farm Bill does not mention its hemp legalization provisions.
In 2014, McConnell included provisions to allow limited state-authorized hemp research programs in that year’s version of the Farm Bill.
Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner cheered the passage of the new hemp provisions on Thursday..
For farmers across KY, there is no piece of legislation more important than the #FarmBill. I am excited that @SenateMajLdr’s #HempFarmingAct made it into this measure, which will allow states to unleash the full economic potential of our industrial hemp pilot programs. #KyAg365 pic.twitter.com/HjU6OGKNjZ
— Commissioner Quarles (@KYAgCommish) June 28, 2018
Published 2 days ago on May 16, 2018 By Tom Angell
In the latest development in a series of anti-cannabis moves, congressional Republican leadership has blocked consideration of several industrial hemp amendments.
Supporters were seeking to attach the measures to the large-scale Farm Bill, which sets food and agriculture policy for the country, but the House Rules Committee on Wednesday decided that the proposals cannot be considered on the floor.
The anti-cannabis chairman of the panel did, however, reveal that a broader deal for industrial hemp might be in the works.
One of the measures the committee killed, submitted by Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with a bipartisan list of cosponsors, would have legalized hemp and made it eligible for crop insurance.
“Hemp is a crop with a long and rich history in our country,” Comer said in introducing his amendment before the committee. “It was grown by many of our founding fathers.”
Comer, who is a former Kentucky agriculture commissioner, said his state’s existing industrial hemp research program, which is authorized under a previous Farm Bill enacted in 2014, “has been a great success.”
He also spoke about the economic potential of the plant. “Times are tough in rural america,” he said. “For rural Kentuckians, industrial hemp has provided a new crop and business opportunity.”
But in a party-line move, the committee voted 8 to 3 to reject a motion to add Comer’s amendment to the list of proposals approved for floor consideration.
Another hemp amendment, filed by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would have removed hemp from the list of federally banned substances.
A third proposal, submitted by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), sought to create “a safe harbor for financial institutions that provide services to hemp legitimate businesses” that operate under state-authorized research programs.
“There is a proud history in American and in Kentucky [for hemp] as an agriculture product,” Barr said when testifying for his amendment, noting that it can be used in over 25,000 products.
Under current law, banks that work with legitimate hemp companies “fear reprisal from federal regulators,” Barr said, arguing that his proposed measure would protect financial institutions “from unnecessary interference from bank examiners and regulators” and give producers rights that “every other American crop enjoys.”
The committee did not hold specific votes on those two measures.
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) has made a consistent practice of blocking cannabis measures from advancing over the past several years.
Sessions, seemingly mistakenly, told Comer during the Wednesday hearing that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has “a clause…that industrial hemp should be declassified under their Schedule I drugs, which they concur, which is the position you hold, too.”
A hemp lobbyist told Marijuana Moment in an email that he had not heard of the DEA taking a pro-hemp position.
Polis, who as a Rules Committee member made the unsuccessful motion to let the full House vote on Comer’s amendment, argued that hemp is a “common sense area” that enjoys bipartisan support. The measure, he said, would simply “treat industrial hemp as the agricultural commodity that it is.”
While Sessions and other GOP panel members were not swayed, the chairman did hint just before the vote that there may still be hope for hemp reform, saying that the issue would be “determined by an agreement that would be reached” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
McConnell last month filed a hemp legalization bill, which Comer’s amendment closely modeled. Fully a fifth of the Senate is now signed on as cosponsoring that legislation, and the majority leader has already announced plans to attach his hemp language to the version of the Farm Bill being considered by the Senate this month.
While it is unclear what exactly Sessions was suggesting when he referred to an “agreement” with McConnell, it may have been a reference to the conference committee process that will merge the House and Senate’s respective versions of the Farm Bill into a single proposal after each chamber passes its legislation. If McConnell succeeds in attaching hemp legalization to the Senate bill, it would then be up for consideration as part of the final legislation sent to President Trump for signing into law.
In 2014, McConnell successfully inserted a provision to prevent federal interference in hemp research programs in that year’s version of the Farm Bill.