Sunday, August 30, 2015

Here's the Disturbing History of Why Marijuana Is Illegal

By Nicole Charky

Over the next 15 months or so, 17 states could potentially enact some form of marijuana legalization. But it's also important to ask ourselves, "Why is marijuana illegal in the first place?"


From the 1600s to the late 1800s, hemp (a cannabis plant containing very little THC) was harvested on U.S. soil to create materials such as rope, paper, and clothing. In fact, in 1619, the Virginia Assembly decided to require farmers to grow hemp for these purposes, according to PBS. Hemp was also used as legal tender in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland around that time. During the 1800s, cannabis products became a popular medicinal substance found in tinctures that were sold in many pharmacies across the nation. It became a requirement to label these over-the-counter medicines containing cannabis, including cocaine and heroin, with the Federal Food and Drugs Act of 1906, but these drugs were still legal.
Around 1910, the Mexican Revolution was starting to boil over, and many Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. to escape the conflict. This Mexican population had its own uses for cannabis, and they referred to it as "marihuana." Not only did they use it for medicinal purposes, but they smoked it recreationally, which was a new concept for white Americans. Even the term, marihuana, was unfamiliar to white Americans, as they called it cannabis.
Southern states—where Mexican immigrants were arriving—became concerned with this growing population. Newspapers ran headlines with the words "Mexican menace" or the "marijuana menace," claiming Mexican men were going crazy from smoking marijuana and that some were even killing people. El Paso, Texas, became the first U.S. city to ban marijuana in 1915, and city officials started rounding up and deporting Mexicans there who smoked marijuana.


"A widow and her four children have been driven insane by eating the Marihuana plant, according to doctors, who say that there is no hope of saving the children's lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life."
In 1936, the anti-marijuana propaganda film "Reefer Madness" was released, and by 1937, 46 of the 48 states passed laws banning marijuana use. That same year, theMarijuana Tax Act was passed. This made illegal to possess marijuana unless it was for specific medical or industrial reasons. That law was eventually found to be unconstitutional, but it was replaced years later with the Boggs Act of 1952 and theNarcotics Control Act of 1956. Those laws required minimum prison sentences for drug crimes, such as marijuana possession.
And then, in the 1970s, President Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs.
The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 began the process of strictly regulating—or scheduling—drugs based on perceived danger. Marijuana was made a schedule I drug, which meant it had no “accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Despite massive amounts of scientific evidence to the contrary, that's still its classification today.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was also created under Nixon in 1972.
The federal government's drug enforcement philosophy was inspired by the Rockefeller Drug Laws, created by New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in 1973. The Rockefeller Drug Laws created strict mandatory jail sentences for possession of drugs. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan borrowed from these laws and created similar mandatory sentences at a federal level and started pursuing drug enforcement more fervently.
As ATTN: has reported previously, the escalation of the drug war contributed to the U.S.'s prison boom, increasing our incarcerated population from 150 people in prison per 100,000 to just over 700 per 100,000, where it stands now. While the motivations were originally aimed at the Mexican population, now people of all ethnicities, particularly Black people, have suffered from harsh drug laws.
Marijuana may be getting closer to where it was in the 1800s, with increasing medical use, but there is still progress to be made.

Why are Hemp Farmers Fed Up with Federal Seed Laws?

By Kentucky Hempsters

Even though the cultivation of industrial hemp is now legal for research and development purposes in a number of states, farmers who are trying to revitalize the American hemp industry are facing myriad legal issues related to the acquisition of their most important resource: viable hemp seeds. These issues stem from the fact that although states may have legislation for growing industrial hemp, it is still illegal under federal law. For no reason that any sane person can comprehend, industrial hemp -- with THC levels below 0.3% -- is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

For farmers, the problems start with finding sources of certified seed to plant. Because hemp has been illegal in the US for decades, there are practically no American sources for hemp seeds. For the few, small quantity domestic suppliers who exist, interstate shipping of seeds is so heavily regulated that it is virtually impossible to move them across state lines.
A truck loaded with hemp seeds
As a result, farmers are forced to source their seeds from overseas, and this can only be done through a state department of agriculture. Already, the bureaucratic paperwork, delay, and compliance nightmare has begun.
Once a foreign source of seeds has been found and the purchase has been coordinated through a state agency, the feds line up to hinder farmers from actually receiving their seeds. Between the DEA, US Customs, USDA, EPA, and other federal agencies, seeds entering the country face a minefield of obstacles, delays, restrictions, rejections, and, of course, a vast mountain of paperwork.
Our home state of Kentucky provides a perfect example of how this nightmare plays out. Last year, Federal customs officials in Louisville stopped a 250-pound shipment of industrial hemp seeds from Italy. This resulted in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) suing the DEA. Although the seeds were eventually released, the delay caused farmers to get those seeds in the ground very late, severely hindering the crops' ability to grow and reach full maturity. Moreover, the delays adversely impacted the amount of vital research that could be conducted for future development.
This year, the KDA approved over 1,700 acres of industrial hemp to be grown by Kentucky farmers. Once again, seed sourcing was a problem and nearly one-fourth of the pilot projects in Kentucky were affected by a simple paperwork mismatch. In this instance, the seeds were grown in France but shipped from a German port. Although France and Germany are both full members of the European Union, the French phytosanitary certificate which accompanied the seeds during importation was rejected by US feds, claiming that a German certificate was required instead. That would be like Germany rejecting corn grown in Ohio because it was shipped from a port in Pennsylvania!
Defying all logic and common sense, in May the feds stopped the seeds where they landed in Chicago, forcing the shipment to sit in impound until June. Despite multiple pleas from state officials, the feds made the decision to reject the shipment outright and destroyed more than three tons of valuable hemp seeds. The destruction of those seeds -- which could have planted more than 100 acres in Kentucky pilot projects -- left many farmers with fewer seeds than they wanted, and some farmers with no seeds at all.
Container full of hemp seeds
Beyond that example of federal interference, for the second year in a row Kentucky’s main shipment of seeds from Canada -- from Canada! -- was delayed for over a month at the border. As a result, farmers were once again forced to plant late, suffer a limited growing season, and reduce their planned research activity.
American farmers deserve the right to grow industrial hemp and to bring its many benefits to market. What should be a simple process of seed acquisition is instead a nightmare with an unpredictable and unreliable outcome for farmers. As long as states say yes and the feds say no to seed importation, farmers will continue to get screwed.
States are trying to work around the feds by starting their own certified seed programs, to make seeds easier and more reliable for farmers to get in coming years. Other steps must be taken to ensure that secure sources of certified seed will be available to farmers when they need hemp, starting with passage of the federal bill that declassifies hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance.
Farming is hard. Learning to farm hemp for the first time is even harder. Learning to farm hemp with the feds hindering you at every turn is ridiculous. Let’s free farmers from this seed sourcing nightmare!

Learn more about hemp -- start off with the hemp basics, then test your newfound knowledge by taking our hemp quiz!
Hemp 101: What is Hemp, What's It Used for, and Why is It Illegal?
Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hemp?

Learn more about Kentucky Hempsters and industrial hemp at, or check them out on the following social media platforms:

DNA Structure Of Hemp And Marijuana Far More Different From One Another Than Previously Thought

By Ed Cara

It’s the sort of question that stoners, hemp farmers, and scientists alike have pondered for thousands of years: Just what exactly is cannabis made out of? Now, thanks to the authors of a PLOS-One study published Wednesday, we may have a much clearer answer.
The Canadian researchers unraveled the genetic structure of 81 different marijuana and 43 hemp samples, in an attempt to test long-held assumptions about the diverse plant. They found that the differences between hemp and marijuana run far deeper than the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in them, and that the advertised ancestry of many commercial strains of marijuana is often times misleading.
Though the cannabis plant can be broadly broken down into three species, C. sativaC. indica and C. ruderalis (C. ruderalis being the most controversial distinction), there are canyon-sized gaps in the classification of marijuana and hemp. Commercial marijuana is divided into exotically named, but hardly scientifically validated, strains, while hemp is defined by its low THC content in comparison to marijuana — THC being the main psychoactive component in cannabis — and is classified into different cultivars.
“The classification of Cannabis populations is confounded by many cultural factors, and tracing the history of a plant that has seen wide geographic dispersal and artificial selection by humans over thousands of years has proven difficult,” the authors wrote.
One of these long-standing cultural factors has included the plant’s illegality in various parts of the world, including even Canada, which only legalizes marijuana for medical use. "Even though hemp and marijuana are important crops, knowledge about cannabis is lacking because of its status as a controlled drug," said study author Dr. Jonathan Page, a botanist at the University of British Columbia, in a statement.
Despite these legal hurdles, the research team was able to procure enough varying samples that they were able to compare their genetic structures to one another and to the ancestral lineage of C. sativa and C. indica plants.
While hemp cultivars are largely considered to be derived from C. sativa, the authors were surprised to find out that nearly all their samples were genetically more related to the C. indica species. The genetic differences between hemp and marijuana also accounted for more than simply the level of THC each type of plant could produce, though the authors were quick to note that “hemp and marijuana still largely share a common pool of genetic variation.”
As for the commercial strains, which are often defined by their relationship to either C. indica or C. sativa, the authors only found a moderate association between the reported ancestry of the strain and its actual genetic history (like dogs, marijuana strains are often a mix between the two). In one particular case, the Jamaican Lambs Bread strain, advertised as entirely belonging to the C.sativa species, was found to be nearly genetically identical to a C.indica strain from Afghanistan.
"Cannabis breeders and growers often indicate the percentage of Sativa or Indica in a cannabis strain, but they are not very accurate," Page said.
The largest study of its kind, the authors are hopeful that their findings can highlight the need for a better system of marijuana classification, though they acknowledge its inherent difficulty.
“Achieving a practical, accurate and reliable classification system for Cannabis, including a variety registration system for marijuana-type plants, will require significant scientific investment and a legal framework that accepts both licit and illicit forms of this plant,” the authors concluded. “Such a system is essential in order to realize the enormous potential of Cannabis as a multi-use crop (hemp) and as a medicinal plant (marijuana).”
Source: Sawler J, Stout J, Gardner, K, et al. The Genetic Structure of Marijuana and Hemp. PLOS-One. 2015.

Attorney wants to legalize hemp on Standing Rock reservation; could face opposition from feds


PIERRE, South Dakota — An attorney on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation wants residents to decide whether the tribe should legalize industrial hemp, but the tribal chairman is concerned about legalizing the plant without the federal government's blessing.

Attorney Chase Iron Eyes has been collecting signatures to put the decision before voters Sept. 30. He says hemp would be a boon to the economy of the reservation that straddles North Dakota and South Dakota.

Chairman Dave Archambault says he agrees industrial hemp could benefit the tribe, but says legalization could put its sovereignty in jeopardy.

Archambault says the tribe should get a permit from federal agriculture officials before it begins to grow hemp.

Hemp advocates say a shift in the federal government's priorities on marijuana opens the door for industrial hemp on tribal lands.

Hemp plants near Murphy may exceed potency limit

By Jim Moore

Unofficial samples from an Orhempco industrial hemp field near Murphy that was tested by the Oregon Department of Agriculture in June showed a THC level in excess of the legal limit of 3 percent.
THC is the primary ingredient in marijuana, hemp's more potent cousin.
Orhempco is a local company that now has three crops of industrial hemp on about 3 acres of property about 10 miles south of Grants Pass. Each crop was planted at a different time and is in a different stage of maturity.
The land is owned by Josephine County Commissioner Cherryl Walker and her husband Martin Hill. Commissioner Simon Hare also is a partner.
Investors in Orhempco aren't concerned about the unofficial test results. Local marijuana growers have expressed fears that hemp might cross-contaminate their crops, thus altering potency.
"That whole first test was an anomaly," said Cliff Thomason, a local Realtor who also is a partner in the new company and who operates the farm on behalf of Orhempco. The Department of Agriculture, he said, "hasn't had a valid test."
This is the first year Oregon has allowed industrial hemp farms. For its tests, the Department of Agriculture is following the lead of Canada, which has allowed commercial production of industrial hemp since 1998 and uses a capillary gas-chromatograph to check for THC levels.
In a statement to the Daily Courier, the Department of Agriculture tried to play down the results — for now.
"An unofficial sample is just for informational purposes for the department and is not used for any regulatory action," said Lindsay Benson Eng, the director of market access and certification programs. Eng said two more sample were taken earlier this month. Results are expected in about a week.
Neither Walker nor Thomason seemed concerned about the pending results.
"We work closely with the department," Thomason said. "We don't have any doubt (the results) will be fine."
This is the first year Oregon has allowed industrial hemp farming in Oregon, and there does appear to be a spirit of cooperation between the state and the growers.
Pokarney said hemp is a new crop in Oregon and a new program for the state, "so we are working through these issues for the first time."
"We're all learning," Thomason said.
What happens if the official test results also exceed the THC legal level?
"If official samples return results that exceed the statutory limit ... the crop would be embargoed until such time as we determine what needs to be done with it," Eng said.
Meanwhile, with no track record to rely on, Thomason, Walker and other investors are not sure what to expect with the crop or even when it will be ready for harvest.
"Some of the plants are over 9 feet tall," Walker said.
Industrial hemp can be used for a variety of products including paper, as a building material, in textiles and in clothing just to name a few.
However, Orhempco is not growing hemp that can be processed into products. Rather, it is growing seeds that can be used to grow other plants.
Last month, Walker estimated the value of the crop at $200,000 to $300,000. On Friday she said she isn't sure what the market value is today.
To realize the potential revenue, two things have to happen. First, the Department of Agriculture can't embargo the crop. Second, the fields have to yield a large, marketable crop.
"I can't predict the yield. It's our first year," Thomason said. "We're all learning. Next year will be the big year."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Purdue hosts Field Day to teach farmers about industrial hemp farming

By Paul Zink

TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) – Purdue researchers had an Industrial Hemp Farming Field Day Tuesday to educate people about proper hemp growing practices.
The field day showed farmers the best ways to grow and provided science based crop advice. Officials say hemp could have thousands of uses. But the main uses are for protein from the seeds, healthy fatty acids taken from the seed’s oils and clothing made from the plant’s fiber.
Researchers say hemp farming could broaden Indiana’s agricultural market.
“It diversifies our economic base beyond corn and beans and wheat, and gives us a fourth option. And I think that is something that’s really important for long-term sustainability,” said Janna Beckerman, a professor of plant pathology at Purdue.
The researchers also discussed the legal issues facing industrial hemp production and the differences between hemp and marijuana. Marijuana has significantly higher amounts of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), a psychoactive ingredient, than industrial hemp.
Researchers say hemp is bred for its seeds and not its psychoactive properties.
“The THC level in our industrial hemp is about .3 percent. To give you an idea how low that is — if you were to try to purchase marijuana in Colorado, the average THC level is actually 18.75 percent,” said Beckerman.
Purdue researchers plan on harvesting the hemp in the coming days, but say they will have field days again next year.
To figure out more about Purdue’s hemp project, you can click here to check out their website.

Colorado State University researchers investigate industrial hemp


Colorado State University is starting to research hemp, a plant with practical uses such as the creation of textiles, soaps and oils that can also be used in the production of a range of pharmaceutical compounds. Because industrial hemp is the same species of plant as marijuana, CSU is navigating a complex legal landscape that has expanded to allow universities to conduct research on industrial hemp.

The research Colorado State University has begun is designed to benefit producers by identifying best varieties and innovative research techniques that should be used under Colorado conditions to ensure industrial hemp is cultivated efficiently and profitably.
Industrial hemp is botanically the same as marijuana, but is different in that it contains less than 0.3 percent THC—the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The U.S. Department of Agriculture farm bill makes provisions for CSU to conduct research on industrial hemp. Researchers in the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences work with the Colorado Department of Agriculture to manage these crops, in part because the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration considers industrial hemp to be the same as marijuana and classifies it as a Schedule 1 narcotic crop.
“While this emerging industry faces a number of unique challenges, such as its legal landscape on a federal level, Colorado’s hemp farmers are becoming national leaders in their industry,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown. “Our registrants are passionate and dynamic entrepreneurs who are developing uses that weren’t imagined just a few years ago. It will be exciting to see how this industry develops in the years to come.”
Although industrial hemp is grown in a manner similar to irrigated corn, Colorado’s arid climate and short growing season present challenges for some producers. CSU researchers believe that the greatest economic opportunity for industrial hemp may be in its future use in pharmaceutical compounds and less for widespread production as a biomass crop for producing fibers.
Hemp variety trials are now underway at CSU research centers in northern Colorado and the southwest region of the state. These trials will begin to identify how different fiber, seed and oil varieties perform under different Colorado climatic and growing conditions, and are being done in cooperation with researchers in the European Union who have similar interests.
Because the federal government has allowed for industrial hemp research to take place at universities throughout the United States, CSU is taking a leading role as the state’s land-grant institution in exploring how hemp may become an important crop in Colorado.

These Members of Congress Ate Hemp Scones and Drank Raw Milk to Protest Federal Food Regulations

By Hunter Schwartz

(courtesy the office of Rep. Jared Polis)

Two members of Congress ate illegal food Friday and got away with it.
Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) ate their meal Friday at Jezebel’s, a Denver restaurant. The reason they aren’t under criminal investigation, though? Because they were in Colorado, and while the dishes they ate are against the law to buy, they brought the food themselves.
Their meal of “forbidden and restricted foods,” as Polis called it, was to bring attention to federal rules they hope to change that limit how food can be sold.
Here’s what they ate:
(courtesy the office of Rep. Jared Polis)
Image courtesy of the office of Rep. Jared Polis

Hemp scones

Hemp cannot be grown or sold in the U.S., except in certain states, and only then with a permit, because it’s a controlled substance according to federal law. The scones cannot get you high.

Non-inspected steak

Beef can only be sold if it came from cows processed through USDA-approved facilities, or if it’s sold as a full, half, or quarter cow. It cannot be sold by the individual steak. Massie brought the steak from cows on his farm.
(courtesy the office of Rep. Jared Polis)
Image courtesy of the office of Rep. Jared Polis

Non-inspected eggs

Just like beef, eggs have to be inspected, too. These eggs came from Polis’ sister’s boyfriend’s backyard chicken coop.


Kombucha can ferment and be over .5 percent alcohol, so it could technically be sold under liquor laws. But even though fermented kombucha is disgusting and no one would want it, it would take about eight fermented kombuchas to equal one beer.

Raw milk

Raw milk is illegal to transport across state lines and illegal to sell in some states. Sounds sinister.
(courtesy the office of Rep. Jared Polis)
Image courtesy of the office of Rep. Jared Polis
Polis and Massie are supporting legislation to change some of these regulations, including the Milk Freedom Act and Prime Act.

Colorado edibles giant to soon release CBD-enriched pet treats all over U.S.

By Ricardo Baca

Two new hemp-based product lines are coming from Colorado's Dixie Brands: Therabis is CBD-infused supplements for pets; Aceso has three formulas for human consumption

Colorado-based edibles behemoth Dixie Brands, which sells Dixie Elixirs marijuana products in Colorado and licenses the brand for sale in California, will soon launch two new CBD-enriched supplement lines available for purchase anywhere in the U.S. — one hemp-rooted product for human consumption and one for dogs and cats.
Therabis is a collaboration between Dixie and 30-year veterinarian Stephen M. Katz; Its three formulas will focus individually on separation anxiety, itching and joint mobility/flexibility, according to Dixie.
Dixie’s other new “cannabinoid wellness product,” Aceso, is for humans. Its initial three formulas — Wellness, Calm and Soothe — are “developed using a specific ratio of ingredients in a proprietary cannabinoid formulation, as well as other synergistic compounds,” according to press materials.
“You go along in your day to day and get dings here and stress there,” Dixie chief marketing officer Joe Hodas told The Cannabist, “and these products are designed to help you become your ideal version of yourself because you’re not sidetracked by these other issues.”
The CBD and other cannabinoids used in Therabis and Aceso products are imported from other countries — but “not from China,” Hodas answered when asked if the company’s CBD supply was coming from controversial China. And what about that popular cannabinoid THC, marijuana’s psychoactive component?
“Anything we sell that has any elements of CBD in it will be well below the most aggressive state limits, .3 percent, for THC,” said Hodas, who also added that these products are being made in a separate Colorado facility than Dixie Elixirs’ cannabis-infused edibles. “It’s trace, a minimal amount, and it wouldn’t have an effect on any human being or pet.”
Aceso will be available as an oral spray or a powder mix. Therabis will come individually packaged in sachets. Both products will debut in online stores in November.
Veterinarian Katz has been testing and reformulating the product now called Therabis on animal patients at his Bronx clinic for the last 10 years, he says.
“While it may sound lofty, we truly believe that the simple but beautiful bond of love between a pet and its owner, actually has the power to make us better as people and to improve the human condition,” Katz said in the release. “It is that unique relationship which drives most pet owners to do anything they can to help their pets when they suffer. We developed the Therabis formulations with that very much in mind as we hope to provide pet owners with a healthy, natural way to make every day the best day possible for their pet. It is an honor and privilege to share our 10 years of research with a broader audience; and it is our hope that Therabis can play a role in elevating the health and wellness of pets and their owners.”
After debuting online, Hodas said both products will move to specialty stores — and then hopefully larger retail stores, meaning PetSmart and Petco for Therabis.
“We want to prove its efficacy by word-of-mouth buzz,” said Hodas. “Ideally we hope that we can bring wellness to pets around the world.”