Are We Aiming to Free the Plant or Not?!

There’s a meme of a little boy on the floor of a kitchen eating snacks with headphones on while watching an iPad that is on the carpet of the living room. The caption reads:

“Food isn’t allowed in the living room…Tablet isn’t allowed in the kitchen. They beat the system. I quit”

What does this have to do with anything? When I read news of the amendment being proposed to the farm bill by the House Committee on Agriculture this meme immediately came to mind. The amendment introduced by Rep. Mary Miller R-IL would essentially ban ingestible hemp derived cannabinoids that contain any level of THC, basically banning “intoxicating hemp”. If you’re interested in digging into the highly problematic term “intoxicating hemp” watch this episode of my podcasts segment Policy and the Plant. It’ll catch you right up! 

Photo: Igot_theshot: Hemp grown by Busted Bucket Farm, North Carolina 

So why is this a problem you ask? Well in 2018 the Farm Bill made hemp containing less than .3 percent delta 9 THC by dry weight legal. Hemp and hemp seeds were removed from the DEAs hit list and farmers were freed to grow without fear.  Well that fear has returned. This is what re-criminalization looks like! As we are fighting to ultimately free the entire plant and normalize its use in all forms you have these kinds of efforts that undoubtedly will cause harm. Instead of addressing the real problem we have elected leaders saying, I quit! This is definitely not how they see it and not their intent. They believe that they are solving a problem but in reality they are causing another one. 

So, why are we here? 

Well as people began to grow, study and manipulate the hemp plant guess what its complexity was unearthed. New organic cannabinoids were discovered and marketed. We started seeing CBG which can be used to fight inflammation, pain, nausea and works to slow the proliferation of cancer cells and CBN which can be used as a sleep aid. Most notably there was the flooding of Delta 8, into the market, which is a synthetically created cannabinoid. Its presence was heavily seen in states, like Texas, that don’t have a robust medical system nor a regulated adult use market. 

Photo: Igot_theshot: Photo: Hemp grown by Busted Bucket Farm, North Carolina 

Ok, so what’s the challenge with all of this? 

Well for one Delta 8 was created. Delta 8 is a psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis sativa plant in minuscule quantities. Large amounts of Delta-8 are produced synthetically by chemically converting CBD or Delta-9 through a process known as isomerization. So now you have an unregulated substance that can produce the same euphoric feeling as THC. 

Secondly since hemp is legal it is allowed to operate outside of the regulated market. That means an entrepreneur does not need to apply for a license, they are not beholden to the same regulatory and compliance limitations, they don’t have to deal with 280e and maybe most importantly, created products can be shipped across state lines. This is the part where players start to hate on other players…look I get it you played by the rules and paid heavily to do so. This is also where the makers of the game (go back to the meme where the parent realizes they’ve been outsmarted) say I quit! It becomes since some aren’t playing how we intended, everyone will be punished. 

To be honest I get this too. Many states are working hard trying to figure the business aspect out and trying to protect consumers…writing the manual while the plane is flying. And so there will be times when policy has to be reviewed and tweaked, but not like this. This is an overreach. This creates harm. This is scorching earth. This is re-criminalizing the plant while we are fighting to free it and people. I honestly hope this is not the impact our leaders are seeking. 

So what is needed?

Education is key! People, consumers need to know the difference between organic and synthetically made products so they can make educated decisions. They need to know about the wonderful world of cannabinoids and terpenes and how they can really shape the kind of experience you have. 

Photo: Igot_theshot: Photo: Hemp grown by Busted Bucket Farm, North Carolina 

Secondly the work of creating a robust regulated industry must continue. Needs that are discovered must have pathways for fulfillment in order to keep consumers where we want them to be and to entice creators to see space for theirselves in the framework. 

Ultimately what we should not be doing or allowing is the re-criminalization of the plant! Let’s do the work to truly tackle what is problematic and continue moving forward on the path of normalizing and freeing the entire cannabis plant! ✊🏾

By: Frederika Easley: Executive Director of Cannabis Impact Fund/ Vice President Minority Cannabis Business Association