CANNAINVESTOR Magazine December / January 2016 - Page 137

The Tangled Web of Industrial Hemp and CBD Just Became More Tangled

By Jeffrey Friedland

When President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, more commonly known as the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill, the growing of industrial hemp in the U.S. was legal for the first time since being 1957. That bill defined industrial hemp as a plant of the genus cannabis containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent.

The Farm Bill permitted the growing of industrial hemp for research and development purposes. It legalized "agricultural pilot programs" which "study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp.” The Farm Bill’s Section 7606 enabled universities and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for limited purposes. Specifically, it allowed universities and state departments of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp if:

“(1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research; and

(2) the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the state in which such institution of higher education or state department of agriculture is located and such research occurs.”

The Farm Bill made the entire industrial hemp plant lawful, including oils or extracts derived from the plant, despite the status of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The Farm Bill clearly did not legalize the full-scale commercial sale of industrial hemp or products or extracts derived from industrial hemp, including CBD. However, this has not stopped many states from ignoring the definition of the “pilot program” and this resulted in full-scale commercial sales of products derived from industrial hemp, including CBD.

The status of industrial hemp was further complicated by Congressional spending bills, specifically the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. These spending bills blocked federal law enforcement authorities from “interfering with conduct” authorized by the Farm Bill. Specifically, they prohibit the DEA from expending any resources in enforcing laws that conflict with the Farm Bill.

On December 14th, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published in the Federal Register a new final rule regarding the creation of a new “Administration Controlled Substances Code Number” for “Marihuana Extract” under the Controlled Substances Act. The new rule will become effective on January 13, 2017.