Inside the Free Speech Battle Over Vancouver’s 420 Festivities

Inside the Free Speech Battle Over Vancouver’s 420 Festivities

[Canniseur: Civil disobedience & Canada – 2 phrases one doesn’t hear too often in the same sentence. It’s fascinating to see how legalized cannabis in Canada is getting played out. There will be lessons learned for Countries following their path to legal cannabis.]

Vancouver’s first 420 event of the post-legalization era in Canada is, paradoxically, turning into a fight over free speech. City authorities claim the event has gotten out of control and must come to an end — or at least be significantly reined in. Organizers, in turn, are asserting their right to hold the event without a permit, just as they always have. 

This year’s Vancouver 420 will be the 25th time the festival has been held since the event began as a pro-legalization rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Since 2016, the event has been held at Sunset Beach, a waterfront park, where it attracts tens of thousands of revelers, with some 40,000 attendees congregating during the peak at 4:20 p.m. and up to 100,000 over the course of the eight-hour bacchanalia.

But the Vancouver Park Board is saying the unpermitted fun must come to an end and has thrown up a multitude of bureaucratic obstacles. In the most recent development, at an April 15 meeting, Park Board commissioner John Coupar raised a motion to ask event organizers to cancel the planned performance by hip hop giants Cypress Hill. That motion passed, and the organizers are now on notice. 

“Cancel Cypress Hill, because that’s a big escalation,” Coupar warned organizers, speaking to Vancouver’s CityNews. “It’s almost like they’re saying, ‘OK, you think it was big last year? We’re going to really make it bigger and there’s nothing you can do about it.’”

‘Largest Act of Civil Disobedience in Canadian History’

David Malmo-Levine, longtime Vancouver cannabis activist and one of the event organizers, struck a defiant tone when reached by Cannabis Now — and he was particularly enthused about Cypress Hill.

“It’s the first time we have a major act performing,” he says. “It’s on a Saturday, so we expect a massive turnout. The parks board is the right wing of Vancouver politics and they’re losing their sh*t over the fact that they can’t shut us down and we refuse to pay for policing.”

That demand from the city, for event organizers to pick up the tab for policing, has also placed them at odds with authorities. The city additionally wants a halt to illicit-market sales of cannabis products on the site. Some 300 unpermitted cannabis-product vendors are expected at the event — and the park board has threatened to shut them all down.

But Malmo-Levine believes authorities will be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. “They like to pretend that cops can shut it down,” he says. “There aren’t enough cops and jails and paddy wagons in Western Canada to shut it down. Realistically, this could be the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history, and possibly a demonstration of the strength of the black market to assert its right to exist.”

Another Parks Board commissioner, Tricia Barker, is openly saying that this year’s 420 event will be the last to be held in a city park. And ironically, she is pointing to cannabis legalization as one of the reasons why. Both city police and British Columbia’s Community Safety Unit are gearing up to wipe out the illicit market.

“Everyone is getting used to the new laws; with another year under their belt they just won’t be allowing all the illegal sales that happen” at 420, she told the Vancouver Sun. “By next year they will be ready and there will be no permitted seller of cannabis at this event.”

Protest or Festival?

Much of the controversy hinges on whether 420 is a “protest” or a “festival,” with the event’s website splitting it down the middle by calling it a “protest festival.” 

Organizers say that as a protest, the event is not on the hook for covering the costs of its own policing. But the parks board says the event is no longer a “protest,” even if it began as one way back in 1995.

Barker said plans to bring in Cypress Hill are actually working against the event. “It’s gone now from being a protest to a festival, and I think they were foolish to do this because it makes our point stronger, that it’s not a protest,” Barker told the Sun

She also asserted that the fact it is no longer illegal to smoke cannabis in Canada weakens the event’s claim to be a protest, protected under the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. “The bottom line is it’s legal now and you can’t smoke in a park. They’ve run out of arguments.”

British Columbia’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth weighed in on the side of the Park Board. He told Vancouver’s CityNews: “This is an annual thing and we’ve seen it the last number of year and my expectation is, you know what, it really should change to meet the times. The fact [is] that we now have legalization in this country.”

The Park Board last year billed organizers $64,870 for the clean-up and other costs related to the event — and despite having signed no permit, they paid up most of it (minus a retroactive permit fee and some other contested items). However, organizers refused to pay an additional $170,796 the city has demanded to cover the costs of policing the event.

Organizers are likely to be hit with similar sums after this year’s 420 — to similar results. “Protests do not pay for policing costs,” organizer Dana Larsen told Canada’s Global News. “The idea that you can’t hold a protest in Vancouver unless you give a huge amount of money to the police kind of goes against the idea of a democracy.”

Even some outside the bureaucracy aren’t buying 420 Vancouver’s argument. “Protests don’t have booths,” Kris Sims of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation told Global News. “They don’t have commerce tents, they don’t sell t-shirts, they don’t have cookies for sale. This is a festival, and it should be treated as a festival, and by that I mean taxpayers should not be footing the bill for this.”

Between the costs controversy and the pledged illicit-market crackdown, the Park Board is adamant that this year’s 420 will be the last to be held in a Vancouver park. “We do not allow smoking in parks [and] we will never, ever permit this event,” commissioner Barker told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

But Malmo-Levine, for one, says the event remains a protest despite Canada’s legalization of cannabis. “It is still quite illegal for the young to use and the poor to grow and deal,” he says. “They only legalized half our community. Until it’s as legal as coffee beans, it’s a protest.”

TELL US, have you ever been to a cannabis protest?

The post Inside the Free Speech Battle Over Vancouver’s 420 Festivities appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Inside the Free Speech Battle Over Vancouver’s 420 Festivities was posted on Cannabis Now.

Buffalo, NY Turns to Cannabis for Post-Industrial Renaissance

Buffalo, NY Turns to Cannabis for Post-Industrial Renaissance

[Canniseur: Hopefully NY passes legal cannabis and the Federal government passes the STATES Act by year’s end. A lot of companies are banking on cannabis decriminalization and Flora Buffalo is one them with this ambitious project.]

A deal with a California-based cannabis company sounds almost too good to be true — and thanks to a budgeting fumble, it just might be.

New York state’s second city of Buffalo has long been a national symbol of rust-belt economic and infrastructural decay. A century ago, Western New York’s Buffalo was the seat of booming industry, but the city suffered a long slide downhill after World War II.

The closing of the Bethlehem Steel plant in 1982, with some 20,000 jobs lost, left the city groping for a new economic future. Development in the financial and medical sectors has helped, but the quest for a post-industrial recovery is ongoing. Now Buffalo’s boosters are banking on a new boom: legal cannabis.

Urban planners have approved a massive cannabis facility backed by California capital for the city’s long-inactive waterfront — and Buffalo’s boosters say the project could turn the Great Lakes region into a leading global hub of cannabis output.

The Greening of the Waterfront

The firm Flora Buffalo is now preparing to open its “high-tech campus” on the city’s Lake Erie waterfront. Local website Buffalo Rising, a kind of semi-official organ of the urban recovery effort, says the sprawling new cannabis cultivation facility “will assuredly position this city as a driving force in the industry, not just statewide, but worldwide.”  

Flora Buffalo, a project of San Diego-based Flora California Prime Inc, has won approval to acquire 72 acres of waterfront in a zone re-designated for such uses by the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC). The BUDC, an agency created to buy up abandoned properties and sell them off to new economic interests, voted up the project unanimously in January. As the Buffalo News reported, the purchase price was $1.9 million. That comes to $42,500 per usable acre, as the property includes wetlands.

The $200 million project foresees hiring up to 1,000 employees for a facility that will eventually cover 1.2 million square feet, including greenhouses, an extraction laboratory and corporate offices. The site mostly covers what the BUDC has dubbed the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park, but it will extend into the Union Ship Canal area, designated a “brownfield,” by New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Much of the money for the project is coming from Zephyr Investors, a San Diego real estate development company led by Buffalo native Brad Termini, who also sits on the board of Flora. 

Flora plans to conduct medical research in cooperation with Buffalo’s Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Institute and SUNY Erie Community College

An account on Buffalo Rising enthuses: “With the addition of the facility, the Great Lakes region, including southern Ontario, will become the largest producing region of cannabis in the world. Across the lake in Ontario there are [six] publicly traded companies with valuations in excess of $1 billion that didn’t [exist] three years ago. This is an important milestone that Buffalo will be able to participate in this rapidly growing industry, creating jobs and economic impact for the region, and eventually cross border trade when the state and federal conflict eases.”  

The Political Equation

As that statement makes clear, the project is predicated on political changes — it takes for granted that cannabis legalization is coming to New York state, and anticipates that the federal government will eventually follow.  In fact, under terms of the deal, construction is not to begin and the BUDC’s sale of the property to Flora is not be finalized unless a legalization bill passes in Albany by year’s end.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is enthusiastically on board with the project and strikes confident tones about the political prospects. “The sale of this land positions the City of Buffalo to be on the leading edge of the potential passage of recreational marijuana in New York State,” Brown told the Buffalo News. “We don’t think it’s premature… We think it’s wise.”

Brown emphasized that Flora and Zephyr have agreed to a “community benefits” package, including a commitment that at least 25 percent of the contractors on the construction will be minority-owned. The same 25 percent of the construction workers are to from minority communities, and at least 5 percent will be women. Flora has also agreed to a target of 75 percent local workers, with a preference for city residents, and all are to receive a “living wage.” The project will also include an “incubator” space for Buffalo entrepreneurs and a vocational job-training center.

But at the end of March, the New York state budget was approved by lawmakers in Albany without the legalization measure that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted to be included. “In concept, we have agreement,” Cuomo said upon passage of the budget bill. “But that is all about the devil is in the details. And that is going to take more time to work out.”

Some lawmakers — and many legalization advocates — felt that Cuomo’s measure was too conservative, and were pushing a more far-reaching bill, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). 

Negotiations are expected to resume later this month, but sticking points include how the state would apportion the tax revenue from cannabis sales, whether the governor or lawmakers would have more control over the licensing process and just how much cannabis would actually be legalized. Cuomo’s version would legalize up to an ounce — the same quantity already decriminalized in New York since 1977. Under MRTA, the threshold is to be two pounds. MRTA would also address the olfactory dilemma in law enforcement, prohibiting police from considering the scent of cannabis as reason to conduct a search.

Buffalo, NY Turns to Cannabis for Post-Industrial Renaissance was posted on Cannabis Now.

Idaho Prohibitionists Block Cannabis Ballot Initiative

Idaho Prohibitionists Block Cannabis Ballot Initiative

[Canniseur: Idaho republicans want to raise the percentage of voters it takes to put an initiative on the ballot. One state Senator says there’s no corollary between the medical cannabis initiative and his bill raising the percentage of signatures needed. Really?]

Idaho remains the final state in the U.S. devoid of any medical marijuana policy, and if conservatives in the state have their say, it’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Idaho cannabis crusaders were looking to the 2020 election as an opportunity to finally open a crack in the state’s prohibitionist edifice, with a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana and industrial hemp. But now, the state’s cowboy conservatives are trying to head ’em off at the pass — that is, at the statehouse in Boise.

Legislation just introduced by Republican State Sen. C. Scott Grow would boost the number of signatures needed to get an initiative on the ballot from 6 percent of voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts, to 10 percent of voters in 32 districts. The bill narrowly passed the Idaho Senate on March 22, and now moves on the lower House of Representatives.

Grow denies the move was made in response to any particular ballot effort, but the 2018 election saw approval of Proposition 2, which expands Medicaid in the state. This means the current cannabis campaign could result in a second such blow to the state’s conservative establishment.

‘Clear Tyranny’

The legislation would apply to all future ballot measures, even if the petition was filed before the bill was even introduced, as is the case with the medical marijuana effort. If the bill passes, it will retroactively raise the bar on signature-gatherers.

Idaho Cannabis Coalition spokesman Bill Esbensen told the Idaho Post Register the new law would be “clear tyranny.”

The Spokane, Washington-based weekly newspaper Inlander notes how Idaho is polarizing around the cannabis question. The state is considering legislation to legalize industrial hemp now that the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill has removed the federal stricture on it. The hemp bill passed the House on March 18, but the bill’s sponsor, Republican state representative Caroline Nilsson Troy, said she didn’t see any interest in marijuana this legislative session.

In contrast, when Idaho Moms for Marijuana kicked off 2019 with a New Year’s Day rally in front of the state capitol, activist Serra Frank told Boise’s KTVB: “The people of Idaho want it, the politicians might not, we don’t care what they say. We are the people, this is our Capitol building, we are going to make this happen.”

And when the initiative was filed with state authorities on March 8, Esbensen of the Idaho Cannabis Coalition expressed confidence. “This time we have some money behind us,” he told the Post Register. “People with voices, future stakeholders.”

But then, Grow pulled his fast one.

Regionally Out of Step

A sign of how far out of step prohibitionist Idaho is with its increasingly libertarian neighbors came in February, when a federal judge in Boise heard arguments from attorneys for a Colorado-based CBD supplier suing the state police to get back 7,000 pounds of hemp that was seized by Idaho troopers at the port of entry during an inspection.

As Boise’s IdahoNews 2 reports, Big Sky Scientific is demanding that the court order the shipment released and allow it to proceed on to the company’s plant in Aurora, Colo. The Idaho State Police are arguing that any substance containing any amount of THC s illegal under Idaho law, even if it is less than the 0.3 percent which is the threshold for industrial hemp under federal law.

Spokane’s Spokesman-Review notes Idaho’s regional isolation on the question. Nevada voted to legalize cannabis in 2016, and Utah just approved medical marijuana last November. This leaves Idaho “fully bordered by pot-friendlier states,” with the sole exception of Wyoming. But in the Gem State, possession of more than three ounces remains a felony.

It has been a long haul for the state’s cannabis advocates. Medical marijuana initiatives in 2012 and 2014 failed to win enough signatures. A poorly worded 2016 initiative was withdrawn from the ballot before signatures could be counted. Paulette Jordan, who would have been Idaho’s first Native American and first woman governor, called for reviewing the state marijuana laws in her 2018 campaign, and even broached full legalization. But she lost the race to Republican Brad Little.

Yet Idaho activists are by no means throwing in the towel. As the Inlander reports, the group Legalize Idaho is to host a meet-and-greet for cannabis advocates at 4:20 PM on April 6 at the Idaho Pizza Company in Boise. The Idaho Cannabis Coalition will also be out in force to collect signatures for the ballot effort at the fourth annual Boise Hempfest on April 20.

Idaho Prohibitionists Block Cannabis Ballot Initiative was posted on Cannabis Now.

Weed-Fueled Workers of the World, Unite! New Pot Employment Rights Bill Introduced to Congress

Weed-Fueled Workers of the World, Unite! New Pot Employment Rights Bill Introduced to Congress

[Canniseur: This seems like a no-brainer. If you’re taking medicine, you should not get in trouble from your employer for taking your meds. We hope this passes easily.]

New legislation introduced in the House of Representatives is being hailed by advocates as a critical step for workers’ rights in the age of cannabis normalization.

A bipartisan bill introduced on Capitol Hill this week aims to protect federal workers who use cannabis in conformity with the laws of their state. The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act would prohibit cannabis drug-testing “from being used as the sole factor to deny or terminate federal employment for civilian positions at executive branch agencies if the individual is in compliance with the marijuana laws in their state of residence.”

A sponsor of the bill, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), was quick to frame the legislation in terms of rights for workers — especially the ailing and veterans. 

“For our veterans, cannabis has been shown to address chronic pain and PTSD, often replacing addictive and harmful opioids,” Crist said in a press release. “At the same time, the federal government is the largest employer of our veterans’ community. This conflict, between medical care and maintaining employment, needs to be resolved. For federal employees complying with state cannabis law, they shouldn’t have to choose between a proven treatment and their job.”

Co-sponsor Rep. Don Young (R-AK) said that he was optimistic that the bill would pass.

“I truly believe that in this Congress we will see real reform of our nation’s cannabis laws — reform based on a states’ right approach,” Young said in the same release. “This bill would protect federal workers, including veterans, from discrimination should they be participating in activities compliant with state-level cannabis laws on their personal time.”

He added: “The last thing we need is to drive talented workers away from these employment opportunities. As a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, I remain committed to promoting this bill, as well as other legislation to protect individuals and reform our federal cannabis laws.”

The bill is a rewrite of similar legislation that failed to pass last year.

Critical Question for Federal Workers — and Vets

HR 1687, as the bill is designated, would bar federal agencies from discriminating against workers solely on the basis of their status as a cannabis user or due to testing positive for cannabis use on a workplace drug test. This is a concern for all federal workers who consume cannabis. 

In 1986, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Program required that all civilian workers at executive branch agencies be prohibited from using substances that are illegal under federal law as a condition of employment. Medical marijuana (not necessarily including actual herbaceous cannabis) is currently legal in 31 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. When CBD-only states are included, the number reaches 46. Yet cannabis, of course, remains illegal under federal law. So federal workers can be denied employment or terminated due to testing positive for cannabis metabolites — even if their use is in compliance with state law.

A September 2017 study by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management found that military veterans make up approximately one-third of the federal workforce. And a January 2018 study published by the National Institutes of Health found that veterans use medical marijuana at double the rate of the general public. A November 2017 poll by the American Legion found that one in five veterans use cannabis to alleviate a medical condition. 

NORML released a statement expressing how heartened the organization is by the legislation. “The discriminatory practice of pre-employment drug testing for cannabis disproportionately hurts the ability for veterans and medical patients to achieve economic security and a feeling of self-worth,” said NORML political director Justin Strekal. “The bipartisan nature of this effort and the bill’s sponsors underscore the absurdity of the status quo and we appreciate the leadership of congressmen Charlie Crist and Don Young.”

Liberalization of cannabis’s legal status at the state level has not negatively impacted workplace safety, NORML asserts. The organization cites a 2016 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finding that legalization of medical marijuana is associated with greater workforce participation and fewer workplace absences. 

In January 2017, the National Academies of Sciences issued a report on “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids,” which found “insufficient evidence” to support an association between cannabis use and occupational accidents or injuries.

As evidence mounts for the efficacy of cannabis in treating PTSD, medical marijuana is fast being normalized in the veterans’ community. And in a sign of progress, the courts are increasingly siding with employees fired for use of cannabis under state medical marijuana programs. 

Weed-Fueled Workers of the World, Unite! New Pot Employment Rights Bill Introduced to Congress was posted on Cannabis Now.

Buying CBD Online? It’s Probably Hemp-Derived — And It’s Not Exactly Legal

Buying CBD Online? It’s Probably Hemp-Derived — And It’s Not Exactly Legal

[Canniseur: When you buy CBD oil online, make sure you read the certified test results. You need to know you are purchasing legitimate CBD supplements. If the website doesn’t tout testing and quality, you don’t want to purchase from them.]

The conventional wisdom is that CBD is now legal, pursuant to the federal Farm Bill enacted late last year. However, as always, the devil is in the details. Here’s what consumers need to know about hemp-derived CBD and buying CBD online.

The cannabinoid known as cannabidiol, or CBD, is all the rage among the health faddists nowadays, and it clearly does appear to have legitimate medical applications, even amid much-unsubstantiated hype about its salubrious properties. Part of this hype stems from the fact that CBD is unburdened of the stigma that attaches to its “high”-inducing sibling, THC. But part of this hype also comes from the fact that, in 2015, the federal government gave a green light to industrial hemp pilot programs in states around the nation. Because the government defined hemp as the cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3 percent THC, companies started selling CBD from hemp, though they still were hampered with legal ambiguities around the compound’s legality.

When President Donald Trump signed the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill into law in late December, it was supposed to clear up the situation — and, in some respects, it did.

But confusion is still widespread about CBD. On one hand, there’s widespread messaging that CBD is simply “legal” now, while on the other hand, we are also getting misleading headlines like that in Rolling Stone on March 5, saying, “Why Isn’t CBD Legal Yet?”

In fact, there are two key questions to keep in mind when it comes to CBD.

First Question: Hemp-Derived CBD or Marijuana-Derived CBD? 


While the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances List, the actual text of the law does not mention the CBD cannabinoid by name. However, it says that “any… cannabinoids” taken from the hemp plant — excluding THC — are removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This implicitly covers CBD.

Countless companies are using the fact that hemp-derived CBD has been removed from the Controlled Substances List to sell it nationwide. This means that if you’re purchasing CBD online, it’s almost certainly hemp-derived CBD. However, this hemp-derived CBD also likely hasn’t been tested and might not even contain CBD at all. There are currently no federal regulations for ensuring this CBD is labeled properly or safe for human consumption.

It also means that the CBD available for purchase online frequently is lacking the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes available from the marijuana plant, which are frequently present in the marijuana-derived CBD extracts sold in dispensaries. This phenomenon is called the “entourage effect,” and there is growing evidence that much of the news about CBD’s effectiveness is enhanced in the presence of THC.

There is also a catch to the statement that “CBD is legal.” Because THC and the THC-laden buds of the cannabis plant remain illegal, CBD’s legality is contingent on whether it is derived from such flowers or not. Although chemically identical, CBD derived from cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent THC is not a scheduled substance, while CBD derived from high-THC strains is still illegal.

This speaks to the stigma that continues to surround THC and its much-maligned “high,” which persists as a kind of cultural hangover from the days of Reefer Madness, even amid the recent progress toward normalization of cannabis. It also speaks the distinction between “marijuana” and “hemp,” which is often derided as a semantic question (as if clear language were not critical to communication).

Adding to the confusion, many states have decided to create their own rules around CBD from hemp vs. CBD from marijuana. For example, in its state regulations last year, California essentially did the opposite of what the federal Farm Bill would do just a few months later: made CBD permissible only when derived from the high-THC strains covered in the state’s legal cannabis program. This places California’s regulations squarely at odds with federal law on the question.

This also means that if you’re a Californian purchasing hemp-derived CBD online, you’re circumventing state laws that require you to buy CBD in a dispensary after it has gone through all of the testing required of marijuana-derived CBD.

Second Question: CBD-Infused or CBD Isolate?

The 1971 Controlled Substances Act, which was tweaked by the Farm Bill to allow for industrial hemp, is not the only law that has something to say on the matter of CBD. The 1938 Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act gives the Food & Drug Administration responsibility for regulating food ingredients and additives, as well as those in drugs and cosmetics. The FDA has not approved any cannabinoids for such uses, which means that any such uses of CBD (even if it’s hemp-derived) are still illegal.

Upon passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA issued a statement that poured cold water on the euphoria. It emphasized “what the law didn’t change”: the FDA’s regulatory powers over food, drug and cosmetic ingredients under the FD&C Act. The statement did leave open a window of hope, saying that the FD&CA “allows the FDA to continue enforcing the law to protect patients and the public while also providing potential regulatory pathways for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds.”

It is the absence of FDA approval that has led health authorities in New York City and some other jurisdictions around the country to unleash a crackdown on CBD-infused edibles last month. This prompted a group of Capitol Hill lawmakers to send an urgent letter to the FDA demanding clarity on CBD’s status. But the matter was still unresolved when FDA chief Scott Gottlieb unexpectedly announced his resignation earlier this month.

The FDA’s Marijuana Questions and Answers page continues to state that CBD as a food additive or dietary supplement is not legal. It doesn’t discuss whether or not CBD isolate is considered legal; however, even a pure extract or “isolate” is usually suspended in a “carrier” substance such as hemp or coconut oil to help preserve potency and deliver the desired concentration per dose. Even if pure CBD was not sold as a food additive or dietary supplement, it still has not generally been approved by the FDA as safe and no testing regulations have been established.

The one exception to the illegality of CBD as a drug ingredient is Epidiolex, the anti-seizure medication that was approved by the FDA last June. This essentially forced the Drug Enforcement Administration to re-examine CBD’s status as a controlled substance. In September, the DEA issued a hair-splitting decision that removed Epidiolex from Schedule I, but not CBD itself. Now that the Farm Bill has basically gone over the head of the DEA on the question of CBD’s status under the Controlled Substances Act, the FDA is the last barrier to its free use.

However, despite the fact that the FDA has not released the rules for how it is going to regulate CBD yet, the legal risks of purchasing CBD products are still slim. Even before passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, there was a vigorous mail-order and over-the-counter trade in hemp-derived CBD. Manufacturers made the argument that it was legal by provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill that allowed “research” in hemp-derived cannabinoids. The federal government did not accept this argument when the matter went before the courts in litigation brought by the Hemp Industries Association — but neither did it move against the industry.

Following passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the industry’s argument has been formally honored by the law. But a degree of confusion persists even now. And, even amid all the CBD hype, consumers should be aware of it. It’s worth knowing that if you’re buying CBD online, it’s most likely CBD from hemp — and that it is not regulated for safety by any government body.

Buying CBD Online? It’s Probably Hemp-Derived — And It’s Not Exactly Legal was posted on Cannabis Now.

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