The USA’s Hemp Industry Association has petitioned the Drug Enforcement Administration to remove industrial hemp plants from the schedules established under the Controlled Substance Act.
Given industrial hemp has very low levels of the intoxicating compound THC (no greater than 0.3% THC by dry weight) and even looks different to marijuana, that it ever ended up on the schedule was ridiculous. That said, it happened and it’s been source of much frustration, lost opportunities and wasted federal resources for years.
For example, the nation has spent millions on eradicating “ditch weed”, which has zero recreational value.
“Hemp has no place on the schedule of controlled substances and it is time for DEA to de-schedule hemp and allow states to once again regulate hemp farming just like any other crop,” says Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of the Hemp Industries Association.
Hemp cultivation is legal in 29 states due to Sec. 7606 of the Farm Bill, the Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research amendment – but it is very restrictive. Just 4,000 acres of industrial hemp cultivation occurred last year.
The US market has a huge appetite for the many and varied products that can be sourced from hemp; everything from textiles to personal care products, to food and important medicines.
The sale of hemp products in the United States is now a half a billion dollar a year industry; with many of those products or raw materials needing to be imported.
It’s pointed out in the petition that the Controlled Substances Act states hemp stalk, fiber, oil and sterilized seed are not controlled as marijuana.
” Thus, an express exclusion of hemp stalk, fiber, oil and sterilized seed was adopted by Congress more than 75 years ago in order to make clear that its intention was only to regulate drug-cannabis and that it did not intend to interfere with the legitimate hemp industry.”
The petition also highlights the fact that the UN Single Convention Treaty on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, to which the United States is a signatory, states the cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes is not restricted:
The petition was filed by the HIA in conjunction with the Kentucky Hemp Industry Council on June 1. It’s certainly not light reading, but you can access a copy of the 20-page document here (PDF).