In Colorado, you can walk into a dispensary and buy your buds without a prescription. Federal government has announced that it will follow a ‘hands off’ policy in states where recreational or medical cannabis is legal. But in other parts of the US, researchers seeking to grow hemp, a variant of cannabis that couldn’t make you high if you tried, are facing obstacles, the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
A “stupefying inconsistency”
The news report classes the stonewalling of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s attempt to obtain hemp seeds for a research project as a “stupefying inconsistency” pointing out that while medical cannabis users – and even those who are in it for kicks – can buy psychoactive marijuana, agricultural and medical research progress on hemp is being hindered.
An attempt on the part of the university to obtain hemp for serious research has had to be abandoned owing to legislation that says no hemp or cannabis product may cross state lines. The seeds would only contain 0.3% THC, making them a bad bet for stoners, but the amount of red tape the university is tied up in to get them has led its Dean to devoutly declare that it would be an “Act of God” if the university is able to obtain its hemp seeds.
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What about the 2014 Farm Bill?
Thanks to the 2014 Farm bill, hemp is already being grown on a large scale in the US. The Congressional Research Service says that hemp sales have reached $580 million. But agricultural businesses are still struggling with regulation.
Omaha based agricultural implements manufacturer Bastcore is considering moving its hemp processing machine business to Colorado. The company’s founder says that the DEA is deliberately “messing everything up” for the fledgling US hemp industry.
Kentucky farmers were forced to wait for their hemp seed while state authorities took legal action against the DEA for seizing 250 pounds of hemp seed destined for agricultural use. As for universities in Kentucky, agricultural research into hemp is forging ahead – between research plots and commercial farmers, 922 acres were devoted to hemp last year.
Meanwhile, back in Nebraska
Nebraska senators have already approved legislation that would allow for agricultural and medical cannabis hemp studies to take place – but it seems that this move will not be sufficient to get the ball rolling.
At Federal level, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has put forward a bill that would see hemp removed from the legal definition of marijuana, but no further progress has been made.
The bill would certainly be a boon for medical cannabis users who want the benefit of cannabinoids other than THC, since natural hemp oils such as the famous “Charlotte’s Web” are extracted from low THC cannabis. Farmers and researchers would also benefit, and Nebraska universities would be able to go ahead with hemp research. At this time, however, this remains within the realms of fantasy.
Should hemp be seen as marijuana?
The columnist for the Lincoln journal Star certainly doesn’t seem to think so, and there isn’t a pothead alive who wouldn’t agree with him, but from a botanical standpoint, cannabis is cannabis. Should congress make the distinction?