- CBD and Hemp
by Patrick Mower
The hemp industry has been growing at a rapid clip ever since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production, possession, and transportation of the plant. But not everyone is happy about it. Hawaii is the most recent of several states to pass strict legislation outlawing smokable hemp flower. HB1819 HD2 SD3, which passed the state legislature this week and is awaiting a signature from the governor, bans not only smokable hemp, but CBD edibles, and anything infused with synthetic cannabinoids as well.
And Hawaii isn’t the only state doing this. Several other states around the country have introduced legislation this year to restrict smokable hemp flower.
This aggressive approach to restricting the use of CBD might seem strange to anyone familiar with the effects of cannabinoids. After all, the majority of research we’ve seen from reputable institutions like the World Health Organization and Harvard seems to agree that CBD has minimal negative side effects and shows great promise for use in a variety of medical treatments. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Though it’s often well-tolerated, CBD can cause side effects, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue. CBD can also interact with other medications you’re taking, such as blood thinners.” These negative side effects all seem pretty benign and are easily managed or avoided. Unfortunately, without providing any research to support their claim, the official position of the Hawaii Department of Health is that “Products containing CBD are not generally considered safe and there may be potential health risks associated with them.”
And Hawaii isn’t the only state doing this. Several other states around the country have introduced legislation this year to restrict smokable hemp flower. Iowa recently passed a bill that allows certain forms of CBD but prohibits the possession and sale of smokable hemp flower. Texas has started to clamp down on the hemp industry as well, with its own confusing directive that allows personal possession and consumption of hemp flower while barring retail sales and production. This means that residents of the Lone Star State can still order hemp and CBD products online from out-of-state vendors, but local farmers and retailers are not permitted to enter the market. And while hemp-based rolling papers are still allowed in Louisiana, smoking hemp in any other form is now prohibited in the state.
But why are we seeing this now? With all the research supporting the positive effects of CBD use and the explosive momentum of the industry, why are states starting to clamp down on hemp flower? The State of Indiana’s fight to keep their hemp flower ban in place might provide some clues.
In May of 2019, the state of Indiana passed SEA 516 which made smokable hemp illegal. The law was challenged by local business owners who felt that it was a violation of the 2018 Farm Bill and a legal battle ensued. An injunction was granted to prevent the law from taking effect but was overturned due to some legal technicalities. Now it looks as though the state has won, and other states, emboldened by Indiana’s success, are moving forward with similar bills. But from the court records, we get a glimpse at the real reason behind these laws. According to the state’s brief, “The Indiana General Assembly chose to prohibit the production, possession, and delivery of smokable hemp in Indiana in order to protect the efforts of law enforcement in enforcing state drug laws and to avoid setbacks like those experienced in other states. This prohibition is a valid exercise of Indiana’s traditional police powers, [and] furthers significant public interests.”
Apparently police in the state were having a difficult time telling legal hemp flower apart from its high THC cousin. Rather than developing better testing, training, or just decriminalizing/legalizing marijuana altogether (as many other states have done with positive results), legislators found it easier to outlaw the plant. Regrettably, this means that local farmers and entrepreneurs miss out on the significant economic opportunities provided to those embracing this growing industry, and the local population is prevented from experiencing the benefits of full-spectrum CBD.
So what can we do? Unfortunately, with the courts upholding Indiana’s hemp ban, a legal precedent has been set that allows states to prohibit smokable hemp as long as the legislation is worded carefully. The only thing that we can do is educate ourselves and get involved at the local level. Get your friends to do the same. Call or write your representatives and let them know that their constituents do not support attempts to undermine the 2018 Farm Bill. It might seem like an uphill battle, but it’s the only choice we have.