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Hemp 103: How the federal legality of marijuana continues to be more affected by old beliefs than scientific facts and promising medical uses

In Hemp 101, we discussed how cannabis came to North America and the importance growing hemp was to the early growth of the United States.  In Hemp 102, we discussed how prejudice, bigotry and the one man’s quest for power caused marijuana to become illegal.  In Hemp 103, we discuss how hemp farming in America made a comeback during World War II but how continued prejudice, misinformation, and the failure of politicians to follow the advice of expert panels they appointed led to marijuana being classified as a Schedule I narcotic.  We also discuss in Hemp 103 the recent trend toward legalizing cannabis and how the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has already declared that hemp and hemp related products do not fall within the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Schedule I drug classification leaving hemp products, including PharmaXtracts CBD products, unregulated and legal to sale throughout the United States.

The U.S. Government encouraged farmers to grow hemp during World War II   

In 1940, legal hemp production in the United States was practically nonexistent, but with the coming of World War II, America’s supply of jute and Manila hemp were cut off by Japanese control of the Philippines and the sea lanes from the western Pacific to the Indian Ocean.  Suddenly, growing hemp was the patriotic thing to do, and the United States government began to encourage farmers in America to grow hemp in abundance to help in the war effort by printing posters saying “GROW HEMP FOR WAR.”

The goal for 1943 was 300,000 acres of America farmland planted with hemp.  In furtherance of that goal, in 1942, the Department of Agriculture, Office of Public Affairs made the movie “Hemp for Victory” and produced a thick comic book reiterating the information contained in the film with lots of pictures and easy to read and understand language (seen below).

As stated in the film, “For thousands of years this plant was grown . . . for centuries prior to about 1850, all the ships that sailed the western seas were rigged with hempen rope and sails. . . This film is designed to tell farmers how to handle this ancient crop now little known outside Kentucky and Wisconsin . . . .”  The film (see opening shot below) was designed to encourage farmers to grow hemp for use by the government in the war effort, and the movie explained to the farmers how best to grow it.  See the entire film here.

“Hemp for Victory” explained how hemp seeds should be planted close together, “the closer the rows the better” explained the movie, so the stalks are thin and tall and lack most their leaves, just the opposite to how recreational marijuana is grown.  It also encouraged not cutting out the male plants until the females were fertilized so there would be good seed production.  Without ever mentioning the words “cannabis” or “marijuana,” the movie talked about the decline of hemp production in America without mentioning its growth being highly discouraged by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.  However, the movie does say, “This is hemp seed.  Be careful how you use it.  For to grow hemp legally, you must have a federal registration and tax stamp (seen below).  This is provided for in your contract.  Ask your triple A [Agriculture Adjustment Administration] committee man or your county agent about it.  Don’t forget.”

The “Hemp for Victory” movie shows a picture of the Plymouth Cordage Company advertising it made Rope & Binder Twine and was established in 1824.  A picture of the inside of the ropewalk at the Plymouth Cordage Plant is seen below.  The film says, “All such plants will presently be turning out products spun from American grown hemp; twine of various kinds for tying, winding armatures, and upholster’s work; rope for marine rigging and towing, for hay forks, derricks, and heavy-duty tackle; light duty fire hose; thread for shoes for millions of American soldiers, and parachute webbing for our paratroopers.  As for the United States Navy, every battleship requires 34,000 feet of rope and other craft accordingly, so here in the Boston Navy Yard where cables for frigates were made long ago, crews are now working night and day making cordage for the fleet . . . This is Manila hemp from the Navy’s rapidly dwindling reserves.  When that is gone, American hemp will go on duty again.  Hemp for mooring ships; hemp for tow lines; hemp for tackle and gear; hemp for countless navel uses both on ship and shore.  Just as in the days when Old Ironsides sailed the seas victorious with its hempen shrouds and hempen sails.”

Patriotic music abounds, and at the end of the movie, a line of battleships is seen cruising the sea.

The present legality of marijuana under federal law

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but President Barack Obama’s administration preferred to take a hands-off approach allowing those states that have passed laws legalizing growing, selling, possessing, and using marijuana for either recreational or medical purposes to enforce their own laws as they see fit.  Whether President Donald Trump’s administration can be convinced to follow Obama’s hands-off approach remains uncertain.
The present law does not apply to “the mature stalks of [the cannabis plant and] any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks.”  See, 21 U.S.C. § 802(16).  If the Drug Enforcement Administration could have its way, which it  cannot, then all naturally occurring cannabinoids found within the Cannabis sativa L plant, including CBD, would be treated as a Schedule I prohibited substance.  More about that later.

However, the 2014 Farm Bill reclassified all portions of the Cannabis plant with a Delta-9 THC level equal to or below 0.3 percent as hemp, placing some Cannabis outside the definition of marijuana.  More about that later as well.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions (seen below) is adamantly opposed to marijuana and always has been.  Sessions has blamed marijuana for inciting violence, has described it as a “very real danger,” and has said, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”  Sessions has directed U.S. Attorneys in all states and territories to charge drug offender arrested on federal charges with whatever drug offense will result in the longest prison sentence with no leniency shown.

President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency following a recommendation received from the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which Commission is chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (seen below), at least, that was the impression Trump left the public.  But Trump only said he considered the opioid crisis a national emergency in response to a reporter’s question following considerable criticism he received from the day before when he mentioned nothing about a national emergency and, instead, simply recommended, “just don’t start” as if that was going to be the new anti-drug expression to replace Nancy Reagan’s “just say no.”  But as pointed out in a New York Times article which ran on August 24, 2017, two weeks after Trump’s “national emergency” press announcement,

“But the Trump administration, perhaps caught off guard by the president’s statement, has not yet taken the legal steps to give those words force.

“A national emergency, and the extra powers that come with it, requires a formal declaration, which the Trump administration has not made.  According to a White House spokesman, any such emergency actions are going through ‘an expedited legal review,’ but it is unclear how long this review will take.  This kind of delay between pronouncement and formal declaration is not normal.  In the past, formal declarations and public pronouncements of a public emergency generally have happened simultaneously.”

So is Trump serious about addressing the opioid crisis?  Probably not, and that would be consistent with Trump’s and Sessions’ attitude that the best way to deal with illicit drug use is to simply put people in jail as if Trump and Sessions have an obligation to keep private “for profit” prisons fully occupied for the benefit of their campaign contributors.

Trump (seen below as a young man) who, obviously never needed any “cheap thrills,” claims he has never drunk alcohol or smoked tobacco or marijuana, and he condemns the use of any illicit drug, including marijuana.  On October 29, 2015, early in Trump’s campaign for president, The Washington Post reported Trump said during a campaign rally in Sparks, Nevada (outside Reno) "In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state."  Since being elected, Trump has not spoken further on the issue and has taken no action to reign in Sessions who obviously still wants to go after states that have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana.  In April 1990, the seemingly more liberal, Democrat leaning Donald Trump, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida, "We're losing badly the war on drugs . . . You have to legalize drugs to win that war.  You have to take the profit away from these drug czars."  According to The Washington Post, “more recently Trump has supported allowing medical marijuana but firmly opposed legalization.  During the [Conservative Political Action Conference] in June [2014], Trump was asked about Colorado's legalization and responded:  'I say it's bad.  Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it's bad, and I feel strongly about it.'"  Where Trump actually stands is where he perceives his audience stands, and that is probably all over the board.  Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Administration, apparently packed with people who would regulate coffee if they could, seeks to exceed its authority by circumventing Congress and the legally required administrative process to declare any cannabis extract a Schedule I drug.
At the CPAC Trump claimed, “If they vote for it, they vote for it, but, you know, they have got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado.  Some big problems."  As far as can be discerned and according to the Colorado Governor’s most recent response to Sessions’ inquiries, Colorado doesn’t have any big problems, if any problems at all.  More on that later.

Then at a campaign rally in Nevada, where the recreational marijuana ballot initiative was about to pass and medical marijuana was already legal, Trump said, "Marijuana is such a big thing . . .I think medical should happen -- right?  Don't we agree?  I think so.  And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states."

Trump has never come out in favor of legalizing medical marijuana on a national level or for reducing federal penalties for growing, selling, possessing, or using marijuana, or for easing restrictions on performing scientific medical studies on marijuana or hemp related products.  It is unsurprising that following Trump declaring the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” he failed to take any specific action.  At most, he fired Jared Kushner who was in charge of solving the opioid epidemic and appointed Kellyanne Conway in his place.  Neither of them have any qualifications which would qualify them for the job.

Meanwhile, Sessions has gone on the offensive.  Seeking recommendations on how the federal government should “combat” the numerous state laws which allow for the growing and selling of recreational and/or medical marijuana, Sessions assembled a Justice Department Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety made up of prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials.  According to the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs,

“The Task Force was formed pursuant to the President’s Executive Order on a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety and will be chaired by the Deputy Attorney General.  Task Force members will be drawn from relevant Department components, and will include the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Director of the FBI and the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).”                                 

At the time, Sally Yates was the Deputy Attorney General.  She was fired for refusing to defend Trump’s Muslim ban, and Rod J. Rosenstein was appointed to take Yates’ place effective April 26, 2017.  The acting Director of the ATF at the time was and still is Thomas E. Brandon.  Trump has failed to nominate a permanent Director of the ATF.  The acting Administrator of the DEA was and still is Chuck Rosenberg (seen below is a UPI photo) who claimed medical cannabis “is a joke.”  Trump has failed to nominate a permanent Administrator of the DEA.  The Director of the FBI at the time was James Brien Comey Jr. who Trump fired while thinking about the FBI’s investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to get him elected.  Comey was temporally replaced on May 9, 2017, by the FBI’s Deputy Director Andrew McCabe until Christopher A. Wray was confirmed as FBI Director on August 2, 2017.  The acting Director of the USMS since February 2014 was and still is David Harlow.  Trump has failed to nominate a permanent Director of the USMS.

Trump’s administration has seen a lot of turmoil with his appointees and advisors coming and going and many slots still left unfilled.  Nevertheless, on August 4, 2017, the Associated Press announced it had obtained a copy of the Task Force’s internal, confidential report.  The Task Force recommended the federal government continue with Obama’s hands-off approach while the federal government’s role in enforcing the federal law making marijuana illegal in all states, including states where marijuana has been legalized for recreational and/or medical purposes, continues to be studied.  Since that time, Trump and Sessions have had nothing to say about the Task Force’s report.

Legal scholars have long questioned whether Congress can legally ban marijuana throughout the United States by simply passing a law.  No such power is given to Congress by the Constitution, and the Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  In order to declare alcohol illegal, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified in 1919 thereby amending the Constitution.  If the banning of alcohol between the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment and the passage of the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933 was necessary to ban the production, importation, distribution, and sale of alcohol, legal scholars have asked why should marijuana be treated any differently?

The Task Force’s report reflects the political reality of interfering with the budgets of 29 states that have begun to rely on tax revenues received from medical and/or recreational marijuana sales.  The  Task Force needed to consider the public’s growing, and now, overwhelming support, for legalizing marijuana on the federal level for all purposes.  A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,062 American voters from across the country conducted from April 12 to April 18, 2017, revealed 60 percent of all American voters believe “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the U.S.,” while only 34 percent of those polled disagreed, and 6 percent remained undecided.  73 percent of those polled believe the federal government should not enforce the federal marijuana law in states that have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana.  An astounding 94 percent of those polled agreed with “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.”  The Quinnipiac University poll had a 3 percent margin of error.

Support for legalizing marijuana is growing by the month.  A Gallop poll of 1,082 American adults taken from August 4 - 11, 2017, found 64 percent were in favor of making marijuana legal.  The Gallop poll had a 4 percent margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level.

Whether the present federal law banning marijuana also applies to growing, selling, possessing, manufacturing, and using hemp and hemp derived products, such as CBD, is another matter which will be discussed later in this post.

There is a building resistance to the federal regulation of marijuana

Marijuana hit the “hippie” scene in the 1960's, and its use became familiar to anyone who watched television, listened to music, went to a popular movie, read a best-seller, or picked up Life magazine.  LSD, which is like marijuana on steroids, was legal for a time.  The birth control pill initiated an era of free love.  The youth of the nation had an unpopular war in Vietnam to protest.  Every “relevant” movie made in the late 1960's, “Coogan’s Bluff” (1968), “Easy Rider” (1969), and “Midnight Cowboy” (1969), to name a few, each had their marijuana party scene.  Below is a still from Easy Rider showing Jack Nicholson smoking a joint.  It has taken 50 years for public opinion to catch up with Hollywood’s message that it would be better to legalize marijuana than spend billions of dollars on police, jails, courts, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, probation officers, prisons, and parole officers and, instead, spend some of the extra tax revenues earned from marijuana sales researching the industrial and medical benefits offered by the cannabis plant.

The problem has been politicians ignoring what their expert investigative committees have been telling them.  In 1969, President Richard Nixon put his Attorney General, John N. Mitchell, a former municipal bond lawyer (seen below before serving 19 months in federal prison for crimes he committed relative to the Watergate scandal), in charge of developing a comprehensive bill to deal with the “drug problem” on the federal level.  Then, for purely political reasons, and making the same arguments made by Anslinger and the Hearst newspapers, including the racial stereotypes, in 1970, President Richard Nixon pushed for passage of the Controlled Substances Act and caused marijuana to be classified by the Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule I drug.  This had the effect of ending research on Cannabis’s medical properties, whether marijuana or hemp, because of the bureaucratic hurdles placed in the way of any researcher seeking the necessary permit–as if the Marihuana Tax Act wasn’t enough.  Classifications were determined for five schedules of drugs, and what schedule the drug would be placed in was determined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, mostly, at the behest of the politicians catering to the “silent majority.”

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 contained language establishing a National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse.  In 1972, Nixon appointed the members of the Commission, otherwise known as the Shafer Commission after its chairman Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer (some members of which are seen below), who reported to Nixon that the United States government’s prohibition of cannabis was constitutionally suspect, that they felt it likely would be found unconstitutional, and that the executive and legislative branches owed their first duty to the Constitution by not enforcing a law the Commission felt was likely to be found unconstitutional.  The Commission issued this advice despite there being no prior court rulings on the subject.  Shafer personally felt possession of small amounts of marijuana should be decriminalized.

Shafer wrote,  “[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use.  It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate.  The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.”

According to a February 14, 1972 article which appeared in The Guardian, “[A] presidential commission has unanimously decided to recommend that all criminal penalties for the private use and possession of marijuana should be abolished. . . . The commission’s conclusions were based on studies which showed that marijuana is not addictive, that it cannot be shown to be physically or physiologically harmful, and that its use does not appear to lead to hard drug addiction.”

Nixon (seen below in an Associated Press photo) ignored his Commission’s recommendations and, instead, said, “I want to emphasize my continued opposition to legalizing the possession, sale, or use of marijuana.  There is no question about whether marijuana is dangerous, the only question is how dangerous.”

Nixon then expanded his War on Drugs by ordering the CIA to invade Mexican air space and spray the Mexican marijuana fields with the herbicide paraquat.  The paraquat turned the marijuana yellow, but it was still packaged in Mexican “bricks” and smuggled into the United States.  Smoking paraquat laced marijuana resulted in a number of Americans getting sick causing the paraquat panic of 1978 and, as a result, head shops started selling paraquat test kits, and articles were written about poisonous pot, as seen on the cover of The Village Voice  (seen below).

Nixon’s spraying the Mexican marijuana fields with paraquat caused many Americans to shy away from purchasing Mexican marijuana and had the unintended consequence of opening up smuggling routes from Columbia into the United States leading to the importation of finer and considerably more expensive Columbian marijuana and, ultimately, led to wide-scale smuggling of cocaine from Columbia into the United States resulting in the cocaine epidemic of the early 1980's.

President Ronald Reagan (seen below playing a U.S. Marshal) upped the ante in 1984 by signing into law the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 and the Controlled Substances Penalties Amendments Acts of 1984 which significantly increased federal penalties for possession of marijuana bucking a tread that began in the 1970's when individual states began reducing their penalties for simple possession, including 11 states that decriminalized and began treating simple possession of marijuana as a civil offense.

In 2003, House Representatives introduced the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to an omnibus spending bill.  The Rohrabacher-Farr amendmentl would have prohibited the Justice Department from spending any funds to pay any employee who spent his time trying to stop the implementation of state laws legalizing medical marijuana.  Time and again passage of this bill failed until in April 2013, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA, seen below) reintroduced his bill, and this time it passed the House and the Senate, and on December 16, 2014, Obama signed the budget to which it was attached into law.  Rohrabacher’s amendment has managed to be attached to all succeeding budget bills as they are renewed.  The last renewal is due to expire at the time the federal budget expires on December 8, 2017.

On May 5, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a budget extension into law to avoid a government shutdown.  The budget extension contained the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment.  Four days prior to that time, Jeff Sessions sought the amendment’s removal from the budget extension by writing Republican congressional leaders,

“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime . . . . The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

Session's statement was in contradiction to President Trump’s previous campaign pledge to leave medical marijuana up to the individual states and his stated supported of medical Cannabis “100 percent.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had previously reiterated Trump’s support for medical marijuana saying,

". . . The president understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them.  And that's one that Congress, through a rider . . . put in an appropriations bill saying the Department of Justice wouldn't be funded to go after those folks.  There is a big difference between that and recreational marijuana."  See cite.

However, when Trump signed the $1 trillion budget extension on May 5, 2017, he added the following signing statement:

"Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories.  I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed."  

Although violent crime slightly increased in 2015 and 2016, it still remains at historically low levels having dropped from 758 violent crimes per 100,000 U.S. inhabitants in 1991 to 386 violent crimes per 100,000 U.S. inhabitants in 2016 according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.

Sessions linking liberalization of marijuana laws to the present opioid epidemic was also misplaced.  A coalition of researchers representing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Harvard University, and Western Carolina University, using as their data Future’s annual surveys of high school seniors, which surveys began in 1975, concluded, “[M]arijuana liberalizations have had minimal impact on the examined outcomes.  Notably, many of the outcomes predicted by critics of liberalizations, such as increases in youth drug use and youth criminal behavior, have failed to materialize in the wake of marijuana liberalizations.”

In July, 2017, before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT.) introduced a replica of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment which was added to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies fiscal year 2018 budget.  After the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment’s inclusion by a voice vote, the U.S. House Committee on Rules blocked a vote on the amendment.  According to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA.), the Republican leadership claimed “it splits the conference too much so we’re not going to have a vote on it.”  However, the amendment was renewed as part of the Hurricane Harvey emergency aid package which was approved by Congress and will remain in effect until December 8, 2017.  After expiration of the aid package, the amendment will go to a House-Senate conference committee.

Rohrabacher’s amendment does not include recreational marijuana, and a Department of Justice spokesperson claimed the amendment only requires “federal agents and prosecutors not to interfere with state medical marijuana laws,” and according to High Times, Tom Angell with the Marijuana Majority said, “[S]o far the Department of Justice has taken the absurd position that these spending provisions don't actually prevent them from going after patients and providers who operate legally under state policies.”  Since Trump was sworn in on January 20, 2017, the Department of Justice has not gone after medical marijuana patients, probably because a substantial portion of Trump’s base are regular recreational users.  A separate amendment addressing the growing of hemp has incurred less controversy.

Democrat New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (seen below) has introduced the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act thereby making marijuana legal on the national level, and this legislation will inevitably have bi-partisan support if the Republican Senate leadership lets it be heard.  Individual states could still make or keep marijuana illegal on the state level.  Presently, the three states that have the most onerous marijuana growing laws are Kansas, where growing five plants can land one in prison for 12-17 years, Virginia, where growing any amount of marijuana is punishable by 5-30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and Oklahoma where growing any amount of marijuana can result in a life sentence.  Simple first time possession of any amount of marijuana in Oklahoma can land one in prison for 1 year.

Below is a map showing the legal status of marijuana in all 50 states as of 2017 according to the Georgia CARE Project.  In the green states, both medical and recreational marijuana are legal.  In the yellow states, medical marijuana is legal.  In the orange states, hemp and CBD oil is legal.  In the red states, marijuana is illegal.

The red states rely on an interpretation of the definition of marijuana which would arguably including hemp, and marijuana is classified a Schedule I drug by the Food and Drug Administration. However, according to the case of Hemp Industries Association, et al. v. Drug Enforcement Administration, 357 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2004), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in 2004 that THC naturally-occurring within non-psychoactive hemp products does not fall under the DEA’s regulation because the DEA scheduled non-psychoactive hemp without following required procedures and, therefore, Congress did not regulate non-psychoactive hemp as a Schedule I drug.

At the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration, in 2014, the Food and Drug Administration began conducting an analysis with the goal in mind of making a recommendation of whether marijuana should be downgraded and removed from Schedule I.  In 2016, the FDA maintained its position that marijuana should be kept a Schedule I drug but announced an end to restrictions on researchers and drug companies gaining access to marijuana for testing and clinical trials.

From the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937, to the FDA’s announcement in 2016, a total of 78 years were wasted when, otherwise, the medical benefits of cannabis derived products could have been explored for the betterment of mankind. This unconscionable delay was caused by prejudice, ignorance, and sensationalized stories designed to sell newspapers and sway voters.  Politicians on both sides of the isle were, and still are, to blame because they feared and continue to fear that coming out in favor of marijuana in any way, even for purposes of medical research, would cost them votes because of the many years of false but effective anti-marijuana propaganda which needs be overcome.

Without question, the Trump administration, meaning Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is hostile to marijuana based on much of the same propaganda. In furtherance of this hostility, Sessions sent letters to the governors of Oregon, Alaska, Washington, and Colorado, which were the first four states to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana, in which Sessions challenged each states’ oversight of their budding industries. Sessions cited a number of false fears and statistics fed him by anti-marijuana zealots dealing with what was being done to stop marijuana legally purchased in one state from being transported to another state where it is not legal, and how the diversion of legally purchased marijuana to minors was being stopped. In more than one instance, Sessions’ letter spoke of a July 2016 report which he said “raises serious questions about the efficacy of marijuana ‘regulatory structures’ in your state.”

Each of the four states responded. In Colorado’s response, Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper (seen below), who originally criticized Colorado’s initiative to legalize recreational marijuana as “reckless,” cited to the report written by Sessions’ own Justice Department Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety which, as previously mentioned, recommended the federal government continue with the Obama administration’s hands-off approach while the federal government’s role in enforcing the federal law making marijuana illegal in all states, including states where marijuana has been legalized for recreational and/or medical purposes, continues to be studied. Hickenlooper’s 140 page report responded to all of Sessions’ unfounded fears with a resounding “NO,” citing statistics and analysis from six Colorado State agencies. No, the legalization of marijuana had not increased marijuana use by minor children. No, the legalization of marijuana had not caused an increase in school dropouts. No, the legalization of marijuana had not caused an increase in juvenile arrests. No, there had not been an increase in auto accidents and fatalities where the motorist was found to be under the influence of marijuana; in fact, marijuana related DUIs had actually decreased 21 percent in Colorado in the first six months of 2017 compared to the year before. Yes, Colorado had collected an additional $459.5 million in sales taxes since marijuana became legal, and yes, the additional tax revenue was spent on school construction in addition to helping solve preexisting drug abuse problems through youth prevention programs, treatment programs, and greater public education.

With that said, it should be noted that until and unless a state’s blood test for marijuana consists of a test for the primary metabolite of THC, known as 11-OH-THC, which will only test positive if a person is still under the influence, will the courts know whether the driver was actually “under the influence of marijuana” at the time of the traffic stop.  Measuring the secondary metabolite of THC, known as 11-THC-COOH, which many states presently use to determine if someone has been smoking marijuana, is useless for determining whether one is under the influence of marijuana because one can test positive for 11-THC-COOH months after one is no longer “under the influence.”  Without testing for 11-OH-THC, no statistics measuring whether drivers have actually been “under the influence” of marijuana at the time they committed a traffic infraction or were involved in an traffic accident will ever be known.

Sessions also had an unfounded fear that money from the sale of marijuana would be used to finance criminal enterprises, but Sessions did not take into consideration that when alcohol prohibition ended, and the manufacture and sale of alcohol became legal once again, organized crime suffered a severe economic blow, not a windfall.  There is no historic precedent for Sessions to suspect legalizing marijuana would benefit organized crime instead of setting it back.  No evidence has come to light supporting Sessions’ counter-intuitive suspicion.  Money from legal marijuana sales is not financing other forms of crime.  If anything, people formally thought of as criminals are coming out of the shadows and paying taxes or, if they cannot procure a grower’s license, are being put out of business by the legal trade.  The reports from all four states describe a well-regulated industry generating tax revenues without causing any increase in crime or any increase in health problems.

As stated in Governor Hickenlooper’s report, the legalization of marijuana “facilitated the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars into the Federal Reserve System that would otherwise exist outside of the nation’s banking system . . . [and, thus, legalization of marijuana insures the money] is not diverted to criminal enterprises.”

What about hemp and hemp derived products?

Users of hemp derived products, such as the CBD products manufactured and sold by PharmaXtracts, need not worry about CBD or the hemp from which it is made being illegal because of the Ninth Circuit’s holding in Hemp Industries Association, et al. v. Drug Enforcement Administration as previously cited (an old picture of the Ninth Circuit courthouse  is seen below).  According to Hemp Industries, hemp and its related products are not within Schedule I, or any of the lessor schedules for that matter, and for the DEA to be able to outlaw hemp by classifying it as a Schedule I drug, the DEA would need show hemp satisfies all three of the following criteria:  (a) it must have a high potential for abuse, (b) it must have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and, (c) it lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.  The Ninth Circuit specifically found, “non-psychoactive hemp is explicitly excluded from the definition of marijuana.”

It would appear impossible for the federal government to prove hemp has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States since the United States Government Department of Health and Human Services patented CBD’s chemical composition in 1998 (Patent Number US 6630507 B1) and stated in its patent abstract,

“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to [N-Methry-D- aspartate (MNDA)] receptor antagonism.  This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.  The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.  Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”

In Hemp Industries Association, et al. v. Drug Enforcement Administration , the Ninth Circuit held, “Congress did not regulate non-psychoactive hemp in Schedule I [and, therefore, the DEA must follow] the appropriate procedures to schedule it as a controlled substance.”  The Ninth Circuit found that according to 21 U.S.C. § 802 (16), Schedule I marijuana does not include, “the mature stalks of [the marijuana] plant . . . [and] any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks. . .”

Despite this clear language from the Ninth Circuit, the DEA has taken it upon itself without the needed public comment or attempt to meet the three requirements previously cited to declare a separate code for “marijuana extract . . . [m]eaning any extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis [and] [e]xtracts of marijuana will continue to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances.”  In its announcement, the DEA specifically said CBD would be within Schedule I because, “[f]or all practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids” adding in a footnote, “although it might be theoretically possible to produce a CBD extract that contains absolutely no amounts of other cannabinoids, the DEA is not aware of any industrially-utilized methods that have achieved this result.”  Obviously, the DEA never heard of PharmaXtracts’ propriety process which produces pure CBD from hemp but, regardless, unless the DEA has the guts to challenge CBD’s medical benefits, it will never legally enforce any law which considers CBD a Schedule I drug.  The real question as Paul Newman kept asking Robert Redford in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is, “Who are these guys?”  More importantly, why are they choosing not to honor their oath of office to support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States?  It seems more a matter of grabbing power than helping people.

Hemp flowers can now be grown with less than 0.3 percent THC content classifying them as legal hemp from which CBD can be made.

Medical and recreational marijuana growers are just beginning to experiment with growing seedless, sesamia cannabis buds with a high CBD content but which contain less than 0.3 percent THC which would then cause the bud to be classified as legal hemp which someone could then legally smoke in all states.  That 0.3 percent threshold is just now being achieved in a sesamia cannabis bud.  Whether one would be able to convince a police officer that a cannabis bud which looks like marijuana and smells like marijuana is actually legal hemp is quite another matter.
PharmaXtracts’ CBD products are made from hemp as defined in the 2014 Farm Bill, contain no THC, and may be legally shipped to any state or territory within the United States.

The future of hemp as a medical remedy

Hemp offers the advantage of being kind on the soil, and it can be grown on the same acreage for several years before crop rotation is warranted.  Extracts from hemp seeds are used in oils, lotions, and food products.  Hemp fiber is used to produce building materials, plastics, cloth, and cordage.  But the greatest and highest use of hemp will likely be to make medicines to ease suffering and save lives.

Marijuana is coming into widespread acceptance for its medical uses.  Cannabidiol (CBD), a THC free, highly refined, cannabis derivative made from hemp increases one’s personal well being without causing the euphoric feeling of being “high” or causing one to fail a drug test, and it is known to offer relief from anxiety, pain, inflamation, seizures, spasms, and migraine headaches.  Recent government funded clinical studies show CBD has the potential to treat arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and epilepsy.  CBD has also been demonstrated to have nueroprotective and anti-cancer properties.*

PharmaXtracts is marketing a variety of products containing CBD to rub in as lotions, smoke in vape pens, and take orally as dietary supplements.  PharmaXtracts CBD products are cutting edge.  See our page entitled “Why take CBD” for further details and additional uses.

Go to CBD 101 for further information establishing the legality of CBD.

The United States Government has held up and impeded research into the medical uses of hemp and marijuana for 80 years because receiving a license to perform medical research on a Schedule I drug is exceedingly difficult.  An accelerated program of medical research and clinical studies is sorely needed.  Take the time to telephone or email your Senators and Congressman and ask them to encourage medical research into the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD).

PharmaXtracts sells the finest, purest CBD products at the lowest prices you will find anywhere.  With over three decades of combined experience in the industry, PharmaXtracts is a band of brothers who decided the CBD market needed a serious intervention.  No longer could we stand by and let false information be perpetuated and insignificant dosages be taken by people who suffer from serious ailments.  It was time to bring clarity to a once very shady world.

Note:   PharmaXtracts claims no copyright for the pictures and photographs used in this post but considers them within the public domain.  PharmaXtracts claims a copyright for the text used herein.  © 2017 PharmaXtracts

*These statements have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration.  PharmaXtracts CBD products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  A doctor’s advise should be sought before using PharmaXtracts CBD products or any other Cannabis extract especially if you have a serious medical condition, use prescription medications, are pregnant, or are nursing a child.  Not for sale to those under the age of 18 years.  Keep PharmaXtracts CBD products out of the reach of children.