By Dalton Rosario
America’s former number one cash crop has been aggregating spectacular developments in allocation of lands cultivated and state pilot programs sprouting throughout the nation. After having been legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, the hemp crop and its derivates of industrial production have been removed from the Controlled Substances Act and has been administered into the hands of the Department of Agriculture rather than penal enforcement and scrutiny under the restrictions of the Justice Department.
Investments in industrial hemp manufacturing have increased exponentially in the past two years. 78,000 acres of hemp spanning across 17 states have been cultivated; particularly for increased demand of CBD products booming in markets across America due to its legal status, non-psychoactive properties and medicinal value as a healthy alternative to opioid prescriptions and rehabilitative treatments for opioid dependence and addition. This year alone hemp is expected to ramp up its production to an estimated 125,000 acres being planted across the country. That is more acres of hemp lands cultivated than the past two years combined. As of 2017 the U.S. industrial hemp market was already valued at $820 million, and based on how licensed cultivation and sponsored state programs have exponentially increased years since, it is not far fetched to classify the current valuation of hemp within our nation to have the capacity to build into a billion dollar industry. America’s cash cow is back in business. - And business is booming.
By Dalton Rosario
Next week on February 7th, Hawaii’s Committee on the Judiciary will vote on cannabis legalization. This is a widely discussed topic throughout the state lately as the Democratic Party presidential nominee Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) openly advocates for cannabis reformation ranging from years of supporting bills that exempt CBD from the Controlled Substances Act, to legalizing industrial hemp and providing assurance for banks that service registered cannabis businesses. This legislation, if passed in Hawaii's Committee on the Judiciary, would allow for adults aged 21+ to cultivate, consume and possess cannabis. Also, manufacturing licenses would be issued for dispensaries and retail locations throughout the islands.
As outlined in the bill, “the legalization of marijuana for personal or recreational use is a natural, logical, and reasonable outgrowth of the current science of marijuana and attitude toward marijuana,” deducing a commercial interest in regulating and taxing the statewide cannabis market and a fundamental understanding that investing in healthy industries such as these reduce black market incentive for violent crimes related to the cultivation and distribution of cannabis. The Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH) believes that regulatory frameworks of commerce are not enough to address the iniquities disproportionately targeted against communities of poverty thus far perpetrated by the war on drugs. They say that more needs to be done; which would likely include expungement services against prior non-violent convictions and/or on-going possession charges being dropped based on similar examples of restitution programs implemented across the country.
By Dalton Rosario
The partial Government shutdown has been in affect for 36 days now and hemp farmers are wondering when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s policies will be updated so that they can access federally controlled water. The U.S. Department of the Interior has been affected by the current impasse of government funding, placing a dead halt on hemp cultivation to begin despite an abundance of farmers ready to work. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) have already reached out to the head of the Bureau of Reclamations (BOR) to update their policies, to no avail. As stated by Sen. Michael Bennet, “After legalizing hemp in the Farm Bill, we should be expanding opportunities for growers. Instead, the ‘Trump shutdown’ has halted implementations and increased uncertainty for the [hemp] Industry.”
There are a number of policy discrepancies between the Justice Department, the Department of Agriculture and the BOR. This causes doubt and mistrust in the newly established hemp industry. Both on part of farmers looking to cultivate and companies willing to invest in the most crucial stage of getting industrial hemp production off the ground. This is terrible timing for the expected market boom of manufacturing and distribution for fibers, papers, biodegradable plastics and derivatives of hemp products including car parts and concrete. The Food and Drug Administration has also been affected acutely by the government shutdown, causing a lag of policy updates relinquishing restrictive policies against CBD derived products.
Democrats have already begun flirting with similar strategies Trump is currently implementing to secure border funding - as a tactical advantage for ending federal prohibition - contingent upon a Democratic nominee winning the 2020 presidential election. But these musings have been proposed as a means of showing what an unreasonable and abrasive misappropriation of negotiation leverage Trump has incurred onto the American people. We should not be held hostage at the mercy of political trifles and contextual semantic disputes. And it will not be long before the executive powers at be learn this lesson.