Full list: Hemp News

Times Argus Op-Ed: Knowledge lacking on hemp

By Emily Peyton
Full Op-ed

Political leadership worried about public opinion around cannabis hemp is stalling an excellent crop. Every high-level candidate I have talked with worries about negative public reception around agricultural hemp. So they stop themselves long before they begin to learn about it. Their minds are closed, and they just will not see hemp being an important player in the farming and business of Vermont. This shortsightedness is so sad.

In the South, Republican leadership is all over hemp, and as a result thousands of jobs are coming of it. Here, no one at the top cares. Hemp is the one crop that offers so much. Vermont will be late in recognizing, but one day, when all finally get wind of results down south, farmers will be growing hemp for higher protein content and oil, improving health for ourselves and our herds. The Vermont construction industry will build healthier passive houses with hemp and lime.

James Comer, publicly elected Republican commissioner of agriculture in Kentucky, was elected specifically because he promoted a Kentucky hemp comeback. Of course now in Kentucky they are much more knowledgeable than Vermont about hemp, and they understand when it comes to cannabis medicine, you don’t have to get high to have it. They know when it comes to petroleum, use hemp instead, in myriad ways. In the South, hemp production is doubling every year. Here in Vermont it’s coming up to year three we are stalled. Do we have a gubernatorial politician willing to lead? Hemp production is gaining such interest elsewhere, that now is the time to secure seed for 2016, and now is the time to make an import process happen.

How sad it will be to wait yet another year to grow hemp in big fields. When will Republican leaders get knowledge about what hemp really is and what it should be allowed to do for Vermont? When will Democratic leaders learn that hemp is far more important medicinally than marijuana? Vermont hemp experts are waiting for political support in levels appropriate to the solutions hemp extends to us all. When true political support gets here through one knowledgeable governor, then watch Vermont get to work healing the people, the economy and the planet with agricultural hemp.

Emily Peyton


Times Argus: Medical marijuana centers can also use hemp

October 9,2015
Full Article

MONTPELIER — New administrative rules approved by lawmakers Thursday will allow medical marijuana dispensaries to provide therapeutic hemp products and deliver medicinal hemp and marijuana products to the 2,200 people on the state’s registry.

The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules unanimously approved the new guidelines after settling on language to exempt farmers from the requirements that the state’s four medical marijuana dispensaries are subject to for hemp production. Some hemp advocates raised concerns at LCAR’s September meeting that the proposed rules could impact the agricultural production of hemp.

The committee has the authority to approve such rules rather than sending them to the full Legislature.

The rules the committee adopted Thursday makes clear that they “shall not apply to or impose any requirements on any other use of hemp” outside of dispensaries.

Joel Bedard, founder and CEO of the Vermont Hemp Company, told the committee he was satisfied with efforts to exempt agricultural use of hemp.

“I think you guys are on a great track right now and certainly support where you’re going,” said Bedard.

After the hearing Bedard, who conducts research with the University of Vermont on how hemp can help agricultural soil and “potentially” clean the watershed around Lake Champlain, said he engaged in the rule-making process to help protect the alternate uses of hemp.

“There were a lot of back room discussions that led up to this and it wasn’t really clarified well,” he said.

If the same regulations are applied to farmers it would prevent those who already struggle to obtain seeds because of federal regulations from growing hemp.

“It was mostly to prevent any regulatory oversight being placed upon farmers,” Bedard said. “If that were to be applied to the agricultural realm, no farmer is going to want to grow this stuff.”

Tim Schmalz with the Agency of Agriculture said hemp farming will continue to be regulated by his agency.

“I think the way the rule is written now it probably won’t have any impact on what (agricultural) hemp does or doesn’t do,” he said.

The state’s four dispensaries can now cultivate and produce hemp products for therapeutic purposes along with marijuana, which was legalized in 2013. Both remain illegal under federal law, however.

Lindsey Wells, marijuana program administrator for the Department of Public Safety, said hemp production by dispensaries must adhere to the same regulations as marijuana, despite the lower amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Those requirements are more stringent than those faced by hemp farmers, she said.

“We have security requirements, record-keeping requirements, inventory requirements, related to dispensary operations,” Wells said. “What the hemp farmers under the Agency of Agriculture are required to do is register with them and pay the registration fee.”

The dispensaries will also be able to meet with more than one patient at a time, so long as privacy requirements are maintained and the meetings are by appointment only.

Jeffrey Wallin, director of the Vermont Crime Information Center, called it “a small change (that) has a potentially meaningful impact.”

The rules will now move to the secretary of state’s office to be finalized.

Burlington Free Press: Mother ‘frustrated’ over school’s hemp policy

Haley DoverOctober 10, 2015
Full Article

BRISTOL – On an October afternoon, Aurora Husk walked out of Bristol Elementary School with her shoulders slumped and a frown on her face.

Her mom was there to pick her up, and Aurora was unhappy about missing class. Aurora was due for her second dose of hemp oil that day. She takes three doses each day in an effort to treat her seizure disorder.

“It’s disruptive for her, whatever she’s involved in she has to stop and come outside with me,” Aurora’s mother Megan Vaughan said. “I feel like it’s a disruption to my child, but I’m going to do it because she needs it.”

The 10-year-old from Bristol has experienced as many as 40 seizures per day since she was 8 weeks old, Vaughan said. Aurora has an inoperable scar on her brain from a burst blood vessel and suffers from a condition called electrical status epilepticus.

Since this past spring, Aurora has been taking CBD hemp oil to treat her condition. Therapeutic hemp oil has been a topic of debate in recent months as state officials expanded regulations to allow Vermont’s four medical marijuana dispensaries to produce those products.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell acknowledges that hemp oil can provide some therapeutic benefit in treating seizure disorders. He wrote in an April memo that residents should not fear prosecution for possessing hemp oil products.

Still parents, including Vaughan, face difficulties when trying to arrange for their children to receive hemp oil doses during the school day.

“They look at me like I’m packing heroin in my daughter’s lunchbox or something,” she said, referring to the school’s staff.

Vaughan said the school nurse at Bristol elementary will not keep the oil product in her office.

The school principal could not be reached for comment.

Aurora can only receive the hemp oil off of school grounds, Vaughan said. Twice a day — at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. — Vaughan drives to Bristol Elementary School to pull Aurora out of class and walk her around the block, where she administers the dosages.

The oil has to be administered two hours before or after Aurora takes her seizure medication, so the time that Aurora gets her hemp dosages is important, Vaughan said.

The process takes about 15 minutes, Vaughan said, which amounts to nearly half a class.

Some days Vaughan can’t make it to the school on time, or even at all, due to work commitments. Vaughan’s mother helps out or Aurora has to miss a dose.

Karen Richards, executive director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission said students’ needs for hemp oil could fall under the public accommodations act assuming the student has a disability.

The commission makes recommendations as to whether they believe discrimination occurred in a particular case. The department has yet to investigate the hemp oil issue, but Richards said she has heard of the problems parents are facing.

The real issue is the difference between federal and state law regarding hemp and medical marijuana, she said pointing to the memo from the attorney general’s office.

“It is not a legal substance under federal law,” she said, referring to hemp. “We have the same issues with medical marijuana.”

“You may have it in the state, but you’re still in violation technically of federal law.”

Schools that receive federal funding are at risk of losing that money if the school is found holding drugs, Richards said. Schools are required to commit to maintaining a drug-free workplace to receive federal funding.

Dr. Breena Holmes, director of Maternal & Child Health at the Vermont Department of Health said the protection of health and safety in schools is a duty shared by the school administration, staff and nurses. There is a manual that establishes protocol for how school staff should administer medications.

For a prescription medication, schools are required to obtain written permission from both the parent and a medical provider, according to the manual. Medications must also be in a current pharmacy-labeled bottle.

For non-prescription medications, a school must obtain written, phone or email documentation from a parent, and the medication must be left in the original store-labeled bottle or container.

Medications cannot be given without the proper permissions, according to the manual. Guidelines for how school employees can look out for drug and alcohol abuse are also detailed.

“It is not clear where hemp oil fits in the current guidelines and it may not fit in either of these current categories,” Holmes said.

Vaughan said she wants a better explanation for why the school can’t give her daughter the “medicine” that she sees as helping to reduce Aurora’s seizures.

Vaughan said she feels the school has a duty to follow through with Aurora’s Independent Education Plan (IEP).

“We have children with disabilities in a public school, they have an IEP so it should fall under the disability clause,” Vaughan said.

Regardless of whether the school agrees to administer Aurora’s hemp oil, Vaughan plans to continue providing the treatment.

VT Digger: Dispensaries OK’d to grow hemp

Oct. 8, 2015, 4:33 pm
by Elizabeth Hewitt
Full Article

Vermont’s four medical marijuana dispensaries got legislative approval to begin cultivating and distributing hemp products Thursday.

The Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules unanimously passed the rule, which was amended to address concerns aired by Vermont hemp farmers at a committee meeting last month.

Hemp is a plant similar to marijuana, but it has a lower content of tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that produces a euphoric reaction. While oils extracted from hemp are sometimes used for medicinal purposes, such as the treatment of epilepsy, the plant has a wide variety of other uses — including as a fiber or in food.

Hemp is tightly regulated under federal laws, but Vermont permits farmers to cultivate the plant for agricultural purposes.

After the Department for Public Safety proposed changes to the rules at an August meeting of the legislative committee, some farmers became concerned that the language could create an additional barrier to Vermonters cultivating hemp for agricultural purposes.

The new rule approved Thursday assures that dispensaries are regulated by the Department of Public Safety for both pot and hemp cultivation, according to Lindsey Well, marijuana program administrator. Meanwhile, hemp farmers outside of dispensaries answer only to the Agency of Agriculture.

Joel Bedard, a hemp grower in Chittenden County who had previously raised questions about the proposed rule, told lawmakers Thursday that he supported the amended language. As passed, he is confident that the regulation for dispensaries will not have any impact on farmers who cultivate hemp for agricultural purposes.

“It was mostly to prevent any regulatory oversight being placed upon farmers,” Bedard said after the meeting.

Bedard doesn’t have an interest in growing hemp for medicinal purposes. He is researching the use of hemp to clean soil, and says that the plant could also be used to clean watersheds.

Bedard estimated that there are some two-dozen people in Vermont with permits to grow hemp agriculturally.

The set of rule changes OK’d Thursday also will allow dispensaries to begin a home delivery service for pot and hemp products — much like some pharmacies offer with prescriptions.

About 2,200 Vermonters are on the medicinal marijuana registry, according to Well. Several hundred others are registered caregivers, who can grow marijuana plants on behalf of a qualified patient.

VPR: Legal Hemp Growing, But Not Yet Booming In Vermont

Oct 5, 2015
Full Article & Audio

Vermonters have just harvested their second crop of industrial hemp since the Legislature legalized it in 2013. But because of obstacles to cultivating hemp in the state, few farmers have grown the crop.

Last year only a half dozen people grew hemp in Vermont. This year, according to one grower, the number is up to nine.

One of the new growers is 23-year-old Evan Donovan who lives in the Northeast Kingdom.

Because industrial hemp is still classified as a controlled substance by the federal government, he is reluctant to publicize the exact location of his farm.

“We had about 2,000 plants this year from a pound of seeds, which was very good,” says Donovan. “We have about 80 acres here. I’m hoping next year that I can put hemp on about 10 to 15 of the acres and really increase production size.”

Donovan and the other Vermont hemp farmers imported their seed illegally.

In spite of it being legal to grow hemp in Vermont, under federal law the entire plant is considered a controlled substance. The hemp growers have had difficulty obtaining seed and want the Agency for Agriculture to facilitate its importation.

But the agency says it doesn’t have the staff or the resources to devote to that or researching hemp cultivation. That’s a shame, says Andrea Stander, director of Rural Vermont.

“I think we are seeing a transition nationally and hemp is going to return as the major agricultural crop that it once was in this country,” she says. “If we as a state don’t recognize that and start putting in place the infrastructure and the opportunity for our farmers to be part of that, we will miss out. Other states will get ahead of us.”

Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross says that Vermont’s likely future with industrial hemp will involve the making of value-added products, rather than competing with other states producing hemp as a commodity.

Nobody seems to know just how many acres were devoted to hemp in Vermont in 2015 but the number is not very high.

Burlington Free Press: Patients, growers consider VT hemp oil law

By Haley Dover
Full Article

Shelly Waterman was looking for a miracle that could cure her daughter’s seizures.

Her daughter Hannah, 13, has neurological disorders. She has experienced seizures multiple times each day for most of her life. Two years ago, doctors diagnosed her with a rare and severe type of epilepsy that causes various types of seizures.

“We’ve been on five or six, maybe seven different pharmaceuticals, all in combination,” Waterman said. “None of which are able to say you are going to be seizure free.”

Hannah had gone three days without a single seizure, her mother said one afternoon in early September. Waterman of Burlington attributes this improvement to the combination of pharmaceutical drugs and a type of hemp oil from Colorado.

The oil product, Charlotte’s Web, is made from cannabis which is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Waterman said.

THC is a chemical compound found in marijuana products, which produces a feeling of euphoria in users.

Because of the oil’s low THC levels, the product can be shipped from Colorado.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell wrote in an April memo that residents should not fear prosecution for possessing hemp oil products. The oil can provide some therapeutic benefit in treating seizure disorders, he noted.

New regulations regarding medical marijuana could provide the option for dispensaries in Vermont to cultivate hemp for symptom relief.

The Legislative Committee on Administrative Roles met for a second time Thursday to discuss the proposed regulations. The committee has postponed any decision on the rules until an Oct. 12 meeting to allow the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Marijuana Registry, to make grammatical changes and clarify definitions.

New this year is the option for dispensaries to grow cannabis plants with a THC level of 0.3 percent or less. Strains of cannabis with low THC levels qualify as hemp under Vermont law, and can be commercially traded in the state.

This law could allow for Vermont medical marijuana dispensaries to enter the therapeutic hemp oil market, and offer Vermonters the choice of purchasing a local product, said Lindsey Wells, program administrator for the state’s Marijuana Registry.

“We’re not trying to limit their options for hemp oil,” Wells said, referring to all Vermonters. “We want it to be available here.”

The cultivation of hemp is currently overseen by the Agency of Agriculture, Wells said. The new regulations will apply only to the four marijuana dispensaries in the state. Farmers who grow hemp for agricultural purposes would remain under the jurisdiction of the agriculture agency.

Dispensary managers interested in growing hemp would be required to submit a proposal to the Department of Public Safety, according to a draft copy of the rules. Managers would be required to list the proposed hemp strands that would be dispensed, updated plans for record keeping, inventory and quality control and the type of barrier that would be used to prevent unauthorized access or visibility to the product.

Homegrown hemp?

Shayne Lynn, executive director of Champlain Valley Dispensary and Southern Vermont Wellness, said he doesn’t grow any plants with less than 0.3 percent THC.

“I just don’t have the time,” he said.

Since he opened his first medical marijuana dispensary in June 2013, demand for products has eclipsed Lynn’s five-year business plan.

Vermont patients have sought medical marijuana treatment at a higher rate than the projections of lawmakers who crafted the original medical marijuana legislation.

Lynn’s dispensaries, located in Burlington and Brattleboro, offer products with various levels of THC and CBD, but none are low enough to be given to children, he said. The lowest THC levels found in the dispensaries are 1 or 2 percent.

He said staff at his facilities are on the hunt for strains of cannabis plants that are similar to the plants used to create the hemp oil that Waterman orders from Colorado.

That involves donated seeds that Lynn germinates, grows and tests to find the correct ratio of THC and CBD.

But even if he found the correct strain, it takes a whole lot of hemp to create any oil, Lynn said.

Andrea Stander, executive director of the advocacy association, Rural Vermont, echoed Lynn’s thoughts.

“No one is producing CBD oil yet because the infrastructure doesn’t exist,” she said.

The Agency of Agriculture allowed farmers and dispensary managers to begin growing hemp in 2014. So far, 20 people are registered to grow hemp in Vermont, including Netaka White, co-founder of Full Sun, a Middlebury-based company that makes craft sunflower and canola oils.

White said he has about a quarter acre of hemp this year. By 2017, he hopes to plant over 100 acres and begin producing Vermont-grown hemp oil.

He believes in the nutritional value of hemp oil and has purchased and ingested it for years. His current plan is to produce nontherapuetic hemp oil, but White said if he saw a need in the market to grow hemp for a medicinal purpose, he might consider the option.

Still, he has reservations.

“I wouldn’t want to jump through the hoops that a dispensary has to,” he said. “The Department of Liquor Control doesn’t monitor a corn farmer because his corn might be turned into whiskey.”

Hemp and the medicinal benefit

Waterman said that her daughter has been on a “pharmaceutical merry-go-round.”

Hannah was diagnosed Rett Syndrome at age 2. The genetic neurological disorder is found almost exclusively in girls and can affect their ability to speak, walk, eat and breathe, according to rettsyndrome.org. When she was 11, Hannah was given a second diagnosis of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a rare and severe type of epilepsy.

One of Waterman’s friends and former co-workers, Annie Galloway, told Waterman about a mother in Colorado that was using cannabis oil to treat her daughter’s seizures.

Waterman thought getting her hands on the medicine seemed like an unobtainable goal, she said.

“I knew nothing about this, absolutely nothing,” she said. “I was thinking ‘oh my god are we going to have to set up a hookah room?'”

There had to be a catch, Waterman remembered thinking. She went to Colorado herself to see what the fuss was about.

“My husband and I needed to know — if this is something that can really help her, I need to see it,” she said.

Galloway, the family friend, was already living in Colorado and working with Realm of Caring, a nonprofit organization that provides support services and resources for people using cannabanoid products. She opened her home to Waterman and introduced her to families who could talk about their experiences using the hemp oils and extracts.

“There’s that perception that it’s a miracle drug, so people say they don’t believe in it,” Galloway said. “This plant is meant to be consumed by people and the best way to consume it is in it’s raw form.”

Creating oils is great for children, she said, adding that the oils are nonpsychoactive because of the low THC levels in the oils. Galloway said it’s critical that people understand the difference between the hemp oils and traditional marijuana.

“I think the perception in a lot of the public is that you smoke this and it’s high in THC and we shouldn’t give that to kids because that’s bad,” she said. “I think we need to legalize it so we can study it, and people can have safe access to it.”

To Waterman, supplementing Hannah’s medication with the hemp oil is no different than combining three or four medications together. While Hannah’s day-to-day wellness can be bumpy, Waterman said she has been taken off of one pharmaceutical completely since starting to use the oil.

Waterman said the decision to start Hannah on the oil was well thought out and included many of her physicians.

“Even though this path is unconventional, our physicians were supportive and active in our efforts to gather info,” Waterman said. “All are cautious and would prefer more research be done in this area but have supported us all the way and are learning along side of us.”

She advocates for Vermont to take the next step to approve the cultivation of hemp for oils at the state’s dispensaries.

VPR: Hemp Growers Concerned About New Hemp Rules For Dispensaries

By Steve Zind
Full Article & Audio

An effort to allow Vermont’s four marijuana dispensaries to grow hemp to produce a medicinal oil has raised concerns among Vermont hemp growers.

Claims of the therapeutic benefits of a hemp oil which contains an ingredient called cannabidiol, or CBD, have created a demand for the product, particularly among parents who feel it is effective in treating seizures and other medical conditions in children.

Lindsay Wells, the marijuana program administrator with the Department of Public Safety, says legislators are trying to respond to that demand by giving the state’s licensed medicinal marijuana dispensaries permission to grow hemp in addition to marijuana.

“The dispensaries didn’t have the product available and the legislature wanted to figure out a way,” Wells says.

Unlike marijuana, which is strictly controlled and legal only for medicinal purposes in Vermont, the hemp oil with CBD is legal and available to anyone who wants to order it from any of a number of sources. That’s because the oil, like the hemp it’s derived from, contains just a small percentage of  THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

If they were to grow hemp, the dispensaries would have to abide by the same restrictions that govern marijuana cultivation.

That raised concerns from Vermont hemp growers – and there are about two dozen of them – that they, too, would have to follow the restrictive rules.

So legislators are being asked to exempt them from the rules.

Joel Bedard, the founder of the Vermont Hemp Company, says he’s worried there still isn’t enough clarity to protect hemp growers.

Bedard also objects to the idea of the state controlling an aspect of agriculture that is otherwise freely practiced in Vermont.

“Currently in the state of Vermont, hemp is completely uncontrolled,” he says. “There is no aspect of industrial hemp that is considered a controlled substance. Why we’re taking the wording for marijuana, which is a completely controlled substance, and forcing it onto an uncontrolled substance is, I think unnecessary.”

The committee will continue deliberating the new rules for the state’s marijuana dispensaries next month.

VT Digger: State looks to grow hemp at medical marijuana dispensaries

Sarah Olsen
Aug. 27 2015, 7:07 pm
Full Article

State officials are asking lawmakers to allow marijuana dispensaries to grow hemp plants and produce and sell therapeutic hemp oil.

The dispensaries want to sell the oil as a treatment for children who suffer from seizures and other neurological symptoms, according to Lindsay Wells, marijuana program administrator at the Department of Public Safety.

Wells and Jeffrey Wallin, director of the Vermont Crime Information Center, are asking lawmakers to change existing state statutes to allow dispensaries to grow hemp.

At a hearing Thursday, members of the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules learned the difference between hemp, marijuana and cannabis. Cannabis refers to the three different varieties of plants that produce marijuana and hemp. Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol at dry weight, while marijuana has more than 0.3 percent THC, Wells said. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces its euphoric effect. Hemp contains more of the compound cannabidiol (CBD), which helps with certain medical treatments. Medical marijuana grown by the dispensaries to treat pain, nausea and other conditions contains a higher level of THC than hemp.

Hemp for this purpose must be grown outside, unlike medical marijuana, Wallin said, and farm production of the plant for hemp oil requires a lot of acreage, he said.

Despite the lower THC levels in hemp, it is still listed as an illegal drug under the controlled substance act of 1970. Jonathan Page, a University of British Columbia botanist, said in a statement Wednesday that knowledge about hemp is lacking because of its status as a controlled substance.

A person cannot get high from smoking hemp because the THC levels are too low to produce an altered state of consciousness, according to a 1998 report for the North American Industrial Hemp Council.

The proposed rule was submitted to LCAR on May 10 and a hearing was held June 19. The public comment period for the proposed rule ended July 26.

The LCAR board members voted to postpone their decision on the rule until their next meeting, Sept. 10.

Westword: Feds Should Amend Marijuana and Hemp Laws, Legislatures Group Says

By Michael Roberts
August 10, 2015
Full Article

The National Conference of State Legislatures is an organization that champions the rights of politicians at the state level.

And at the just-concluded NCSL Summit in Seattle, the group took a stand against federal interference when it comes to marijuana and hemp.

In a resolution on view below, the NCSL asks that federal laws “be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies.”

Here’s how the organization describes itself on its website:

Since 1975, NCSL has been the champion of state legislatures. We’ve helped states remain strong and independent by giving them the tools, information and resources to craft the best solutions to difficult problems. We’ve fought against unwarranted actions in Congress and saved states more than $1 billion. We’ve conducted workshops to sharpen the skills of lawmakers and legislative staff in every state. And we do it every day.

In recent years, marijuana and hemp have been very much on the NCSL’s radar, for reasons described on an overview page devoted to the subjects. The following passage about 2015 cannabis proposals references legislation put forward in a slew of states:

Adult-use legalization bills currently are pending in Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont. In addition, bills in Georgia and Missouri propose constitutional amendments on marijuana legalization; and a Louisiana bill also would provide for a proposition election to allow for legal adult use of marijuana. Legalization bills have failed in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico and West Virginia; and an initiative petition in Nevada and constitutional amendment proposal in New Mexico also have failed. The pending Texas proposal would repeal criminal provisions but does not include taxation and regulation.A bill in Maine addressing consistent drug-free workplace policies would require study of legal marijuana and the workplace. Study bills failed in Illinois, New Hampshire and Wyoming. A Maine measure failed that would have prohibited localities from referendums to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

In addition, nineteen states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, the NCSL points out; they are ” Alaska (also now with legal provisions) California, Colorado (also now with legal provisions), Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington (also now with legal provisions), and the District of Columbia (also now with legal provisions).”

The new resolution also highlights the fact that “nearly half of the states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of marijuana,” despite the substance remaining illegal at the federal level. With that in mind, the authors of the document believe changes need to be made at the federal level. The final portion of the resolution reads:

BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference and urges the administration not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures recognizes that its members have differing views on how to treat marijuana and hemp in their states and believes that states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety,, health, and economic development of their communities.

Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority sees this move as a positive step. Corresponding with Westword via e-mail, he writes that “while the Obama administration has made some helpful accommodations for states to move forward with their own marijuana policies, overarching federal prohibition laws still stand in the way of full and effective implementation. These state lawmakers are demanding that the federal government stop impeding their ability to set and carry out marijuana laws that work best for their own communities, and Congress should listen.


Culture: Maine Officially Legalizes Commercial Hemp Cultivation

By Zara Zhi
June 25, 2015
Full Article

A new decree that allows for the cultivation of hemp in Maine is currently in effect after a veto by Gov. Paul LePage was superseded, according to Governing.com.

“I am absolutely thrilled that this is now law,” stated Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea. The veto was overridden by a vote of 135 in favor, 6 opposed and 10 absences on May 12 in the Maine House. The senate also chose to reverse the veto on June 16, by a vote of 28 in favor and 6 opposed.

“This was overwhelmingly overridden,” she added on Monday of the veto. “It got big support in both the House and the Senate. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle really showed their support for it.”

On Monday, Sanderson said the emergency statute would go into effect immediately so that cultivators can plant their seeds as early as possible.

The rule permits planters to buy hemp seeds from any qualified seed source, rather than only certified Canadian producers, as initially presented in the first version of the bill.

When Sanderson first introduced the bill, community members, farmers, organic growers, and agricultural researchers rallied behind the initiative. The measure will open new prospects to farmers and deliver local sourcing for many hemp-made products, according to the representatives.

Hemp fibers have many diverse uses including textile making, paper, insulation, building materials and composites for auto bodies. But hemp is also tainted in controversy because it comes from the same plant as cannabis, which is why it’s still classified as a drug under federal law.

On Feb. 10, during a public hearing on the bill in the State House, Jon Olson of the Maine Farm Bureau testified that the farming of industrial hemp was deliberated at an Aroostook County Farm Bureau meeting and said that farmers believed it would be “value added” crop to add to their rotation.

Ann Gibbs, acting Director of the Animal and Plant Health Division for the Maine Department of Agriculture, was neutral on the bill and stated that hemp is classified as a “drug” under the Federal Controlled Substance Act, and would be difficult to import for commercial use due to the restrictions. The DEA controls any hemp that is grown legally and has only given permission to the state Department of Agriculture or to universities for research so far.

The bill calls for licensing fees that should be “reasonable and necessary to cover the costs of the department” and would be set at the preference of the Maine Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont have already legalized industrial hemp for cultivation and research.