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I was driving this summer, and I saw a bumper sticker that read: Free CBD!
For those of us working in the hemp-derived industry, we get it. Even though CBD has been shown to bring relief from a myriad of ailments to many people, it has been virtually locked up since 1970 when the Controlled Substances Act passed. This act sought to determine which drugs were more likely to be abused and which drugs had the potential for medical purposes. Marijuana was determined to be a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and LSD.
According to the DEA, “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Furthermore, Schedule 1 drugs have “the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” Unfortunately, because marijuana and hemp were not differentiated, hemp growing was officially outlawed in order to comply with the law. The rich history of this versatile crop screeched to a halt.
Before 1937, hemp had been a core crop in our American economy for centuries. It was used to make paper, clothing, rope, fuels, and construction components. In the new colonies, farmers were legally required to grow hemp. Thomas Jefferson even wrote the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. Hemp was used in the early 1900s until the production of hemp became competition for the newly emerging plastics and nylon industries. Some believe that this competition is the reason that the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed. That new law heavily taxed all hemp sales and signified the beginning of the end for the hemp industry.
World War II brought about the need for hemp and its products for the war effort. Farmers were allowed to grow and cultivate thousands of acres of hemp. However, the laws reverted after the war, and farmers were no longer allowed to plant or cultivate hemp. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 further vilified industrial hemp and declared it federally illegal. This is how hemp stood for the past forty-plus years.
In 2014, hemp’s legal status began to change. President Obama signed the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill. This bill regulated agricultural policy for the next four years, and tucked inside its 959 pages was a provision called “The Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research.” This provision separated hemp from its psychoactive cousin, marijuana. It allowed states to decide if they wanted to license farmers to grow industrial hemp if it was grown “for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research.” Hemp could be grown legally for research purposes.
The 2014 Farm Bill opened the door for hemp-derived CBD, but it could be argued that CBD has only recently hit the public’s collective consciousness. A subsection of society knew about CBD before, but now it seems that stories about CBD transect all ages, races, generations and income levels.
A year ago, I didn’t even know what CBD was or what is was used for. The speed and power with which CBD has saturated the marketplace has been astounding. It feels like a tsunami of CBD information, testimonials, and products washed over America. Still, depending on where you live and the laws that govern your state, you could have very different experiences actually trying CBD oil.
In Alabama, for example, Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly held a press conference in August 2018. He and other government officials made it clear that CBD oil was considered illegal in Alabama, and they would prosecute anyone found to possess it. CBD in Ohio is regulated by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy stated that the only legal way to sell CBD is through a medical marijuana control program dispensary. At the other end of the spectrum are Colorado and California, where CBD can be obtained at any area dispensary. When I first wanted to try CBD where I live in North Texas, I found it could be shipped to my house, but only two stores near my area were actually able to sell CBD products off the shelf.
For those working in the hemp-derived CBD arena, the 2018 Farm Bill went a long way toward freeing CBD. It paves the way to legitimizing CBD because it included language that finally separated industrial hemp from its psychoactive sister plant marijuana. On December 13, 2018, the 2018 Farm Bill passed both the Senate and the House and headed to President Trump’s desk. On December 20, President Trump signed the $867 billion bill, thereby opening up hemp to be produced by growers and shipped across states without penalty. The door is open for growers to create hemp-derived CBD products.
The ambiguity regarding CBD has not been completely clarified. The Farm Bill 2018 made it okay to grow and ship hemp and hemp-based products without breaking the law if growers follow the guidelines of their individual states. However, it leaves the legal regulation of hemp-derived CBD products firmly in the hands of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has not yet legally approved or created a regulation system for hemp-based CBD oils for ingestion as a supplement, a medicine or in foods or beverage products for humans or animals. The FDA takes the stance that more research needs to be done on the benefits and any negative effects of CBD on humans and animals.
So while many are finding positive results using CBD oils, companies cannot claim the products have medical or nutritional benefits. Consumers should do their own careful research before using CBD products.
For some of us, we’re waiting for our state’s laws and the FDA to catch up with the new federal law found in the Farm Bill 2018. However, the Supremacy Clause is on our side, as it states that federal law generally takes precedence over state laws.
Though hemp has had a checkered past, from staple crop to federally prohibited dangerous drug, I am grateful that hemp-derived CBD oil is on the way to being completely freed to help many more people than before.
Kim Nelles is a wife, mom of two beautiful girls, and an English teacher who lives in Texas and found CBD oils helpful in her family’s lives. If you would like to connect with Kim and learn more about CBD oil, you can reach her at [email protected]
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