As we know, there has been much talk surrounding the 2023 Farm Bill and Schedule III. For those unfamiliar, with the definition of Schedule III, according to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Schedule III drugs are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. One of the problems with this is the fact that the hemp plant is part of this legislation and when you hear the word, hemp, what immediately comes to mind? Oh, that’s right! All the negative things we have been told about this big, bad, taboo plant.
Also, for those that don’t know, there is the Hemp plant AND the Cannabis Sativa plant. They are both derived from the same plant family however, one carries a heavier quantity of THC than the other. Why is this important?
Enter the Alphabet Soup!
One of the main issues for the hemp industry to unravel is the FDA’s position on CBD which, as we know, is a non-intoxicating compound of cannabis. Because there is a lack of clear direction, hemp production has started to decline. In fact, the uncertainty caused by the FDA’s stance, or lack thereof, on CBD has made it to where big retailers are unable to even carry these products. There are also many companies that have become reluctant to delve into the development and manufacturing of CBD products which has the potential of being a several billion dollar-a-year industry. Despite the lack of clear direction, The USDA is trying to make it so that cannabis and hemp cannot be grown in the same facility and has even begun revoking licenses from some farmers who grow both. Considering they are of the same plant family AND many cannabinoids are also derived from the hemp plant, this just makes no sense!
Let’s refresh on what the FDA is, shall we?
“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the oldest comprehensive consumer protection agency in the U.S. federal government. The law was a quarter-century in the making and was headed by Harvey Washington Wiley, Chief Chemist of the USDA Bureau of Chemistry, who provided basic elements of protection that consumers had never known before that time. Although it was not known by its present name until 1930, the FDA has changed along with social, economic, political, and legal changes in the United States. Examining the history of these changes illuminates the evolving role that the FDA has played in promoting public health and offers lessons to consider as we evaluate current regulatory challenges.”
Do you mean, the same Food and Drug Administration that approves food and beverages that contain poisons and toxins for U.S. consumers? Many of which have been banned from other countries because consumption of those same products is harmful to humans? We’re waiting for some type of approval from them? How fascinating!
How about the USDA? What is their purpose?
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management.
We have a vision to provide economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our Nation’s natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.
Our strategic goals serve as a roadmap for the Department to help ensure we achieve our mission and implement our vision.”
Well, aren’t those just pretty words twisted so nicely? Who wants to inform them they’re sorely lacking the vision they speak of?
Another interesting tidbit that’s been floating around as to why the FDA and Congress don’t know what direction to take regarding CBD is “there just isn’t enough research for these new products to know if they’re safe.”
Again, how fascinating! For those of us who have been researching extensively, don’t you find it interesting that all things hemp were legal until 1937? How about the fact that cannabis and hemp were safely used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years before then? But there hasn’t been enough research done? Not just in medicine, but industrial as well.
OR could it be that there is a full awareness of the positive benefits of cannabis and hemp that “the powers that think they be” don’t want us to know about? Hence, green plant bad!
So, the question remains, “Why should the Industrial Hemp Industry and the CBD Industry band together?
There are a variety of regulatory factors that are unique to industrial hemp and create an uncertain environment for producers. Some would have you believe “In the United States, hemp is a young and volatile market.” Or “There is a lack of historical research and agricultural data and a scarcity of current market information.” And yet, as stated above, all things hemp were legal until 1937. Why wasn’t there considered to be a lack of research then?
The regulations imposed mean there are things producers need to take into consideration, including:
- Dual oversight of states and Tribes, along with the federal government, creates a lack of clarity for producers.
- The status of cannabis at the federal level is continually evolving and has an impact on the overall regulatory climate.
- Misconceptions among local law enforcement and local jurisdictions have and will continue to hinder producers’ abilities to market their crops.
Regardless, with so much focus on CBD, THC, and the medicinal aspects of hemp, we are overlooking the Industrial Hemp Industry, itself. Let us not forget, that while we are discussing the same plant family, we are discussing two completely separate industries, producing significantly different products and materials.
Hemp as a Bast fiber is a crop that has been grown for centuries. It produces a long, durable fiber that is strong, absorbent, and anti-microbial. Some of the known uses are for rope, textiles, and insulation.
The Hurd fiber, on the other hand, comes from the soft core of the hemp stalk. It is light, dust-free, and absorbent. Some known uses are hempcrete, paper, and fiberglass.
Hemp seeds are a great source of plant proteins and contain all nine essential amino acids. The seeds, which are technically nuts, can be eaten raw or used to make milk, oil, protein powder, and even cheese substitutes. Hemp seed oil can also be found in many organic skincare products.
The hemp flower is typically harvested from unpollinated female plants. The flowers contain hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes that are extracted from the plant using various methods, including distillation. The main use is for its cannabinoids such as CBD, CBG, CBN, etc.
In the end, when considering all of these things and so much more, both of these industries walk side by side and could potentially have a lot to lose apart, but if they band together and present a united front, have everything to gain!