Texas Hemp Companies Fight Delta-8 THC Ban

Hemp companies in Texas are vowing to fight a ruling that health officials announced last week, declaring that delta-8 THC is a Schedule I controlled substance under state law. Regulators with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) noted that while hemp products and extracts with less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC were legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, the cannabinoid and its variants are still tightly controlled under state rules.

“DSHS posted the clarification below on our website in response to recent requests from hemp growers who said that there was confusion in the industry about what was allowed in consumable hemp products,” Lara Anton, a spokesperson for the agency told the Texas Tribune.

The agency wrote online that consumable hemp products containing amounts of THC consistent with federal law are also legal under House Bill 1325, which was passed by state lawmakers in 2019 to regulate the Texas hemp industry. However, “All other forms of THC, including Delta-8 in any concentration and Delta-9 exceeding 0.3 percent, are considered Schedule I controlled substances,” the DSHS wrote on its website.

Delta-8 THC Ban Catches Retailers Off Guard

The announcement from health officials has come as a surprise to many companies that manufacture or retail products made from hemp, including independent operators of CBD stores and vape shops. Ashley Flood, the owner of a CBD American Shaman franchise in Allen, Texas, says that they were never properly notified of the decision to ban delta-8 THC, which officials say was made last year by DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt.

“We didn’t find out from the state; we didn’t find out from law enforcement; we didn’t find out via letter, email—nothing. We found out from one of our suppliers,” Flood said after finding out about the change to the DSHS website.

Ben Meggs, the CEO and cofounder of Houston-based Bayou City Hemp Company, says that the DSHS has exceeded its authority and “failed to abide by state law by banning delta-8 THC products, noting that state lawmakers declined to do so when they had the chance.

“The Texas legislature had an opportunity to pass laws that would have likely banned delta-8 THC and would have provided for less ambiguity, but lacked bipartisan support to get this passed, so it is confusing for consumers and businesses to understand the how the current legal status could have changed,” Meggs wrote in an email to High Times.

“It is our belief that a blank statement surrounding the legal status of delta-8 is not only inaccurate, but irresponsible and short-sighted,” Meggs added. “Not only does DSHS interpretation completely contradict both the Federal Farm Bill and HB1325, we all know that outright bans to anything only further drive the industry underground with less oversight, and we lose the ability to pass fair and balanced regulations.”

CBD Company Files Suit to Block Ban

Hemp products operators including Sky Marketing Corp., the operator of the CBD retailer Hometown Hero, are taking legal action to fight the Texas ban of Delta-8 THC. In a suit filed in state district court, Sky Marketing asked for a temporary restraining order blocking the DSHS from taking any “enforcement action” against companies selling low-THC hemp products. 

The company argued in a court filing that state officials did not give proper notice of the proposed rule, and that the ban would create a financial hardship for companies selling delta-8 THC products.

“After operating legally and consistent with Texas law for several years, Plaintiff and other similarly situated businesses and individuals now find themselves in potentially legal jeopardy, and their businesses and livelihood with an uncertain future,” the lawsuit states.

Sky Marketing was not successful in its attempt to block the DSHS from enforcing the ban, however. In his ruling denying the action released on Friday, Judge Gary D. Harger of the 126th Judicial District in Travis County wrote that the plaintiff had “not met the requirements of a temporary restraining order.”

Meggs, whose company was not involved in the legal action, said that he was “surprised” by the judge’s ruling and vowed to file a new suit “so we can protect the rights and safety of Texans.” He added that regulating the hemp industry, including firms offering delta-8 THC products, will protect the consumers and allow legitimate companies to operate openly and transparently.

“The true concern I have with this decision are the effects it has on farmers, businesses and consumers whose livelihood and well-being depend on it,” Meggs said. “Prohibition doesn’t work; we know that. Banning delta-8 creates a black market with less checks and balances in which the cannabinoid will still be sold underground by bad parties in the industry.”

The post Texas Hemp Companies Fight Delta-8 THC Ban appeared first on High Times.

Legal Delta-9 THC, Is It Worth It?

The 2018 US Farm Bill created quite a stir by legalizing the production and manufacture of hemp products. With it came a possible loophole for products like delta-8 THC, which can be sourced from hemp. Now, that legal conundrum has gotten even more intense as products containing what is called ‘legal delta-9 THC’ are now available. Are these products legal? And are they worth it?

The world is definitely a changing place when legal delta-9 THC can be found on shelves. Truth is, it might not be completely legal, but it definitely is available. This is also true of compounds like delta-8 THC, delta-10, THCP, THCO, THCV, HHC and more. The cannabis world has gotten so big, that new products are coming out nearly every day. We’ve got a great overall selection of deals, and plenty of other products for you to check out and try for yourself.

Delta-9 THC

Delta-9 THC, sometimes just referred to erroneously as simply ‘THC’, is the primary psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, and is responsible for the feelings of euphoria that come with use of the plant. Delta-9 is actually only a version of THC, which itself stands for tetrahydrocannabinols, and refers to several different compounds, not just delta-9. Often the term ‘THC’ will be used in place of ‘delta-9’, but in reality, the true name of the compound is not ‘THC’.

Plants that are higher in delta-9 than CBD, are called marijuana, with the federal cutoff being over .3% delta-9 in dry weight as the standard for ‘marijuana’. Cannabis with less delta-9 than this, is referred to as ‘hemp.’ Whereas hemp was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, high-THC marijuana, was not.

Delta-9 THC has been on the Controlled Substances list since its inception in 1970. Prior to that, the new age of prohibition started in 1937 with the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act, which stopped medicinal and recreational use, as well as stunting the hemp market. At that time, the hemp market contributed to tons of different industries, from building, to clothing, to paper, and so on. Delta-9 THC has this chemical formula: C₂₁H₃₀O₂, which is the same as CBD, as well as other cannabinoids like CBC (Cannabichromene) and CBL (cannabicyclo), and even the sex hormone progesterone.

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Is it legal?

No, and I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure where the debate on this one comes in. Here’s why… According to the 2018 US Farm Bill: ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.’

This definition includes extracts, so if something is extracted, like delta-9, it couldn’t legally be extracted in a higher percent than .3. To make matters worse for the claim, not only does the definition apply to the plant in question for production, but all products produced from it, and all parts of the processing procedure. If the delta-9 amount rises above .3% at any given point, then the product becomes illegal. Since these products are above .3% delta-9, they are automatically illegal.

There has been an ongoing debate about compounds like delta-8 THC, a naturally occurring oxidized version of delta-9. Though delta-8 occurs naturally through this oxidation process, it occurs at extremely low rates. This means, in order to make products with it, it must be synthesized in a laboratory, and this can then mean the use of chemicals or processes that can be dangerous. Since delta-8 can’t simply be extracted, it brings up the question of whether it should be considered natural or synthetic. Sure it occurs naturally in nature, but any product we use of it is synthesized. As a synthetic, it’s automatically illegal. Of course, there are other issues with delta-8, but this is a big one.

The difference with delta-8 and delta-9 in this regard, is that delta-9 is specifically mentioned in the definition of hemp, and so there is no question. It doesn’t matter where delta-9 is produced from, as any product that has over .3% of it would be illegal anyway on a federal level. Whereas the Farm Bill creates what appears to be a loophole for delta-8 (which really isn’t technically there), there’s really no such illusion with delta-9.

Is something illegal if you can’t do anything about it?

This, of course, brings up the question of why ‘legal delta-9 THC’ products are being advertised as legal, when there is no legal basis for them. And the answer, as far as I can tell, is actually pretty basic. Vendors can get away with advertising legal delta-9 THC, because no one’s going to do anything about it. And this begs the question, if there are no actual repercussions to an illegal activity, is it actually illegal?

The idea of ‘illegal’ depends on punishment. After all, if something is stated as illegal, but there’s never a punishment for it, it creates a form of a loophole. It’s not technically legal, sure, but anyone participating also won’t have to worry about criminal repercussions. It’s a strange loophole that exists, which can be created by different factors. In this case, the factors seem to be related to the ability to police the industry, which considering how many unregulated cannabis compounds are being sold from illegal dispensaries, isn’t happening.

cannabis cannabinoids

Taking a step back, and looking at the whole war on drugs, confirms that point further. The US government was never able to stop any kind of illegal cannabis trade, and has been generally weakened by the majority of its states adopting policies that go against federal mandate. Plus, the government has gotten plenty of backlash in the past for continuously attempting to give criminal penalties to people legally using by state law. It’s honestly hard to imagine the government really being able to do anything about it at this juncture.

What about actual legal THC?

Truth is, the US government knows it has to pass a bill very soon since it can’t keep its states under control. This can be seen in different places. One big giveaway is a state like North Carolina, and its republican-led medical cannabis bill. Republican representatives have made no bones in that state about understanding that the population wants it, and that they must comply if they want to keep their seats.

On a bigger level, the US government has two bills currently working their way through Congress, which would each work to end cannabis prohibition, though in slightly different ways, and with different laws and regulatory measures. The MORE Act, is a decriminalization act, which would also work as somewhat of a legalization measure. This is because it institutes tax rates on cannabis products, something that can’t be done in a simply decriminalized market.

A tax rate makes it on the up and up. Decriminalization only refers to a lack of criminal penalties; and decriminalization measures generally come with some kind of minor, non-criminal punishment. This bill passed the House last year, but didn’t make it to the Senate before adjournment. It’s up for another House vote this year to continue on.

Then there’s the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which is a full-on legalization bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. This would go further than the MORE Act, though they would both drop cannabis from the Controlled Substances list. This bill would also drop Section 280E from the IRS tax code, which would work to allow cannabis operators to access the same tax deductions as other businesses. Both bills come with their own structures for tax and regulation, with the Opportunity Act proposing much higher tax rates, but allowing for things like interstate sales.

Is it worth it?

In my opinion, absolutely not! And I doubt many people will care much for it. We have a stable and working black market for good weed in America, and 18 states with legal dispensaries (or which soon will have them if they haven’t gotten there yet). It’s not the idea of it being technically illegal, so much as simply unnecessary. Weed is accessible, that’s why the government has always had such a hard time stopping the industry.

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The more confounding issue in my mind, is that rather than just using the plant to access delta-9, this would mean using synthetization techniques, which in this case, are sort of ridiculous. The debate exists with delta-8, because you can’t access a large enough amount naturally, and it has good enough qualities to make synthesizing it worthwhile. We can access delta-9. Pretty much anywhere in the world.

This doesn’t mean it can’t be useful, especially if its sold in places where cannabis is illegal recreationally, and perhaps harder for some to get. Although I have to question if in such places, it would be wise to expect to see these products on any shelves. If so, then perhaps its something in place of nothing. Otherwise, apart from mild curiosity, my best guess is that this is a misplaced venture that will be invalidated before it has time to really catch on anyway.

Conclusion

Legal or not, it seems like delta-9 THC is being sourced from low-THC hemp, and sold as a (legal) product. Maybe I’m wrong and legal delta-9 THC will be the next big thing, but in a country on the brink of a legalization/decriminalization, and with the ability to easily get real cannabis in most places, I don’t think this is anything more than a gimmick, and not the best one I’ve seen.

Hello to all! Thanks for dropping by CBDtesters.co, your premiere location for the most current and thought-provoking cannabis and psychedelics-related news worldwide. Come by regularly to stay in-the-loop on the ever-changing landscape of legal drugs and industrial hemp, and remember to subscribe to the The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter, to ensure you always know what’s going on.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post Legal Delta-9 THC, Is It Worth It? appeared first on CBD Testers.

A Quick Guide to Cannabis Patents: What You Need to Know

Amid the quick expansion of the legal cannabis market, many cannabis growers and business owners are pushing to secure intellectual property rights for the strains and products they’ve created.

Cannabis patents currently exist in a still-clouded regulatory atmosphere thanks to federal prohibition, but it’s still possible to receive one — and the cannabis industry is certainly rising to the challenge to secure their own rights to continue cultivating strains that have long been part of the genetic and intellectual commons.

In the midst of this push for protecting cannabis intellectual property, there has been a rash of court cases and developments that have changed the foundation of cannabis patents in America. So what does it mean for the average cannabis consumer, who perhaps has heard to be wary of the day a patent-wielding Monsanto enters the cannabis industry?

Here is a basic guide to what you need to know about cannabis patents.

What Is a Cannabis Patent?

In the United States, there are three kinds of patents: utility patents, for a process or application of particular products; design patents, generally for industrial products; and plant patents, for new varieties of plants.

Each of these types of patents could apply to cannabis products. For example, in 2017, a Nevada-based firm with the slightly presumptuous name Cannabis Sativa Inc did win a plant patent for a strain called Ecuadorian Sativa. The firm boasted of its high content of the terpene limonene, and its possible curative capacities for various ailments — not of THC. The company was later able to procure a utility patent for a cannabis lozenge.

This one of the few cannabis patents that have been granted in the U.S. According to Forbes, the U.S. Patent Office has been issuing cannabis patents since 1942, despite the fact that the plant is a Schedule I drug. Over the years, about 1,500 cannabis patents have been filed, and there were about 500 active cannabis patents, as of 2017.

One bizarre contradiction of federal policy is illustrated by the fact that in 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services itself secured a patent — number 6630507 — for the use of cannabinoids (not including THC) as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Yet just three years later, an FDA memorandum reiterated the official position that cannabis has “no medical value.”

Why Are People Particularly Scared of Utility Patents?

A utility patent protects the way that something is used and how it works. Consider the utility patent for a cannabis lozenge: it’s a patent on the idea that cannabis can be consumed in lozenge form to address a specific problem.

That makes utility patents particularly broad, and therefore could be used to step on more cannabis companies’ toes.

For example, “you can’t say you’ve done all the work necessary to establish use of cannabis for headaches,” Jerry Whiting of Seattle-based LeBlanc CNE, which develops and markets CBD products, told Cannabis Now. “That’s not worthy of government protection. These patents are unenforceable in most cases, but nobody can afford the lawyers to go after them.”

What About the Process for Getting a Cannabis Trademark?

It’s confusing: Getting a cannabis patent with the federal government is possible, but a cannabis trademark is not. A trademark is a form of intellectual property protection over a name, word, logo, symbol or design associated with a product or company.

Currently, there is no process for trademarking a product that contains significant quantities of THC, and the federal government is only now moving to establish such a process for CBD products.

In a case that exemplifies the persisting dilemmas, a federal court in California ruled last month that cannabis edibles cannot be trademarked due to federal prohibition.

As Food & Beverage Litigation Update reports, the San Francisco-based court for California’s Northern District rejected a trademark infringement claim in Kiva Health Brands LLC v. Kiva Brands Inc. In the litigation, Kiva Brands Inc (KBI) and Kiva Health Brands (KHB) disputed rights to the “Kiva” trademark. KBI asserted that they owned the name, given that they had been selling cannabis-infused edibles under the name in California since 2010. But the court said no dice.

In 2010, the federal government did entertain the idea of allowing trademarks for medical marijuana products. Hopes had been raised by the government’s creation in April 2010 of a new trademark category: “Processed plant matter for medicinal purposes, namely medical marijuana.”

Applications for trademarks were quickly filed. 

“It looked like a positive step to me. We don’t have many steps by the federal government legitimizing medical cannabis,” Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Oakland’s flagship dispensary, Harborside, told the Wall Street Journal. But that July, the USTPO did an about-face and nixed the plans.

What About Hemp Patents?

In September, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded “what appears to be the first patent for a hemp strain” to Denver-based Charlotte’s Web Holdings. Charlotte’s Web obtained U.S. Plant Patent No. PP30,639, listing CEO Joel Stanley as an inventor of the “new and distinct hemp cultivar designated as ‘CW2A.’”

The federal bureaucracy is starting to catch up with the law following passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The USPTO issued guidelines for trademarks on CBD products, while the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) is preparing to recognize intellectual property in hemp varieties. 

At the international level, hemp strains are already being registered with the Geneva-based International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

Why Are Cannabis Patents So Controversial?

Starting with the failed California legalization bid Proposition 19 in 2010, we’ve seen the strange phenomenon of “Stoners Against Legalization” — cannabis users and growers who viewed the initiative (and the successful Proposition 64 six years later) would allow big corporations to corner the cannabis market and squeeze out independent growers via access to finances and patents. 

These fears were fueled by rumors in 2010 that the Drug Enforcement Administration was granting big corporations licenses to grow cannabis for research. The concern was that these companies could develop novel applications for cannabis, receive a broad patent, and then go after smaller cannabis growers for infringing on their patent, wielding the patent like a legal bludgeon. This is a strategy made famous by Monsanto, which uses its corn and soy patents to push out small farmers growing those crops.

Why Is “Prior Art” So Important?

The federal government will only grant a patent to someone if it believes the product or idea in question is a “novel invention,” and that means no one has come up with it before.

“Prior art” is anything that proves a patent was not a novel idea. For example, if Person A gets a plant patent for a cannabis strain they claimed was unique, but Person B can prove they grew that strain in 2014, the patent could be held invalid.

Breeders and growers are still wrestling with how to assert their traditional rights in the increasingly corporate-dominated cannabis environment, and especially because many illicit market growers were understandably avoiding keeping a paper trail. In the cannabis space, many people have advocated for using strain databases to build potential “prior art” defenses.

What Do “Open Source” Cannabis Projects Mean for Cannabis Intellectual Property?

For those people who don’t want to claim ownership over cannabis — and want to keep cannabis open to the public, open source projects have been useful.

For example, the Oregon non-profit Open Cannabis Project sought for years to protect the cannabis genome from corporate privatization by gathering cannabis data to keep in the public domain. (However, Open Cannabis Project has been suspended due to funding challenges following a controversy concerning the supposed proprietary ambitions of its for-profit partner, Portland-based Phylos Bioscience. Phylos encouraged cannabis growers to use its strain genotyping services and database to establish prior art.)

“Nobody has the right to patent the Garden of Eden,” says Whiting. “No one owns nature. The rest is just courtroom bullsh*t.”

Whiting has drawn up what he calls an “open-source alternative licensing schema” under the title “Cannabis Breeders Rights.” It lists different categories, such as “grow & harvest” only or “cloning allowed.” 

His proposed framework is also designed to protect the rights of small growers who do not have access to economies of scale.

Whiting’s “end-user license agreement” would establish the prior art of a particular cannabis strain.

“My wishes going forward are that these strains are never to be owned by anyone,” he says. “As long as it’s being used by seed-savers in backyards, it’s free.”  

This system is based on terms agreed to by vendor and purchaser, rather than patents.

Whiting’s alternative licensing proposal is partly inspired by “Berkeley Standard Distribution,” the norm adopted by computer engineers in the ’90s that established UNIX-based operating systems as open-source. “A lot of the software that runs the world today is not under commercial license,” he says.

The post A Quick Guide to Cannabis Patents: What You Need to Know appeared first on Cannabis Now.

A Quick Guide to Cannabis Patents: What You Need to Know

Amid the quick expansion of the legal cannabis market, many cannabis growers and business owners are pushing to secure intellectual property rights for the strains and products they’ve created.

Cannabis patents currently exist in a still-clouded regulatory atmosphere thanks to federal prohibition, but it’s still possible to receive one — and the cannabis industry is certainly rising to the challenge to secure their own rights to continue cultivating strains that have long been part of the genetic and intellectual commons.

In the midst of this push for protecting cannabis intellectual property, there has been a rash of court cases and developments that have changed the foundation of cannabis patents in America. So what does it mean for the average cannabis consumer, who perhaps has heard to be wary of the day a patent-wielding Monsanto enters the cannabis industry?

Here is a basic guide to what you need to know about cannabis patents.

What Is a Cannabis Patent?

In the United States, there are three kinds of patents: utility patents, for a process or application of particular products; design patents, generally for industrial products; and plant patents, for new varieties of plants.

Each of these types of patents could apply to cannabis products. For example, in 2017, a Nevada-based firm with the slightly presumptuous name Cannabis Sativa Inc did win a plant patent for a strain called Ecuadorian Sativa. The firm boasted of its high content of the terpene limonene, and its possible curative capacities for various ailments — not of THC. The company was later able to procure a utility patent for a cannabis lozenge.

This one of the few cannabis patents that have been granted in the U.S. According to Forbes, the U.S. Patent Office has been issuing cannabis patents since 1942, despite the fact that the plant is a Schedule I drug. Over the years, about 1,500 cannabis patents have been filed, and there were about 500 active cannabis patents, as of 2017.

One bizarre contradiction of federal policy is illustrated by the fact that in 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services itself secured a patent — number 6630507 — for the use of cannabinoids (not including THC) as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Yet just three years later, an FDA memorandum reiterated the official position that cannabis has “no medical value.”

Why Are People Particularly Scared of Utility Patents?

A utility patent protects the way that something is used and how it works. Consider the utility patent for a cannabis lozenge: it’s a patent on the idea that cannabis can be consumed in lozenge form to address a specific problem.

That makes utility patents particularly broad, and therefore could be used to step on more cannabis companies’ toes.

For example, “you can’t say you’ve done all the work necessary to establish use of cannabis for headaches,” Jerry Whiting of Seattle-based LeBlanc CNE, which develops and markets CBD products, told Cannabis Now. “That’s not worthy of government protection. These patents are unenforceable in most cases, but nobody can afford the lawyers to go after them.”

What About the Process for Getting a Cannabis Trademark?

It’s confusing: Getting a cannabis patent with the federal government is possible, but a cannabis trademark is not. A trademark is a form of intellectual property protection over a name, word, logo, symbol or design associated with a product or company.

Currently, there is no process for trademarking a product that contains significant quantities of THC, and the federal government is only now moving to establish such a process for CBD products.

In a case that exemplifies the persisting dilemmas, a federal court in California ruled last month that cannabis edibles cannot be trademarked due to federal prohibition.

As Food & Beverage Litigation Update reports, the San Francisco-based court for California’s Northern District rejected a trademark infringement claim in Kiva Health Brands LLC v. Kiva Brands Inc. In the litigation, Kiva Brands Inc (KBI) and Kiva Health Brands (KHB) disputed rights to the “Kiva” trademark. KBI asserted that they owned the name, given that they had been selling cannabis-infused edibles under the name in California since 2010. But the court said no dice.

In 2010, the federal government did entertain the idea of allowing trademarks for medical marijuana products. Hopes had been raised by the government’s creation in April 2010 of a new trademark category: “Processed plant matter for medicinal purposes, namely medical marijuana.”

Applications for trademarks were quickly filed. 

“It looked like a positive step to me. We don’t have many steps by the federal government legitimizing medical cannabis,” Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Oakland’s flagship dispensary, Harborside, told the Wall Street Journal. But that July, the USTPO did an about-face and nixed the plans.

What About Hemp Patents?

In September, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded “what appears to be the first patent for a hemp strain” to Denver-based Charlotte’s Web Holdings. Charlotte’s Web obtained U.S. Plant Patent No. PP30,639, listing CEO Joel Stanley as an inventor of the “new and distinct hemp cultivar designated as ‘CW2A.’”

The federal bureaucracy is starting to catch up with the law following passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The USPTO in May issued guidelines for trademarks on CBD products, while the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) is preparing to recognize intellectual property in hemp varieties. 

At the international level, hemp strains are already being registered with the Geneva-based International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

Why Are Cannabis Patents So Controversial?

Starting with the failed California legalization bid Proposition 19 in 2010, we’ve seen the strange phenomenon of “Stoners Against Legalization” — cannabis users and growers who viewed the initiative (and the successful Proposition 64 six years later) would allow big corporations to corner the cannabis market and squeeze out independent growers via access to finances and patents. 

These fears were fueled by rumors in 2010 that the Drug Enforcement Administration was granting big corporations licenses to grow cannabis for research. The concern was that these companies could develop novel applications for cannabis, receive a broad patent, and then go after smaller cannabis growers for infringing on their patent, wielding the patent like a legal bludgeon. This is a strategy made famous by Monsanto, which uses its corn and soy patents to push out small farmers growing those crops.

Why Is “Prior Art” So Important?

The federal government will only grant a patent to someone if it believes the product or idea in question is a “novel invention,” and that means no one has come up with it before.

“Prior art” is anything that proves a patent was not a novel idea. For example, if Person A gets a plant patent for a cannabis strain they claimed was unique, but Person B can prove they grew that strain in 2014, the patent could be held invalid.

Breeders and growers are still wrestling with how to assert their traditional rights in the increasingly corporate-dominated cannabis environment, and especially because many illicit market growers were understandably avoiding keeping a paper trail. In the cannabis space, many people have advocated for using strain databases to build potential “prior art” defenses.

What Do “Open Source” Cannabis Projects Mean for Cannabis Intellectual Property?

For those people who don’t want to claim ownership over cannabis — and want to keep cannabis open to the public, open source projects have been useful.

For example, the Oregon non-profit Open Cannabis Project sought for years to protect the cannabis genome from corporate privatization by gathering cannabis data to keep in the public domain. (However, Open Cannabis Project has been suspended due to funding challenges following a controversy concerning the supposed proprietary ambitions of its for-profit partner, Portland-based Phylos Bioscience. Phylos encouraged cannabis growers to use its strain genotyping services and database to establish prior art.)

“Nobody has the right to patent the Garden of Eden,” says Whiting. “No one owns nature. The rest is just courtroom bullsh*t.”

Whiting has drawn up what he calls an “open-source alternative licensing schema” under the title “Cannabis Breeders Rights.” It lists different categories, such as “grow & harvest” only or “cloning allowed.” 

His proposed framework is also designed to protect the rights of small growers who do not have access to economies of scale.

Whiting’s “end-user license agreement” would establish the prior art of a particular cannabis strain.

“My wishes going forward are that these strains are never to be owned by anyone,” he says. “As long as it’s being used by seed-savers in backyards, it’s free.”  

This system is based on terms agreed to by vendor and purchaser, rather than patents.

Whiting’s alternative licensing proposal is partly inspired by “Berkeley Standard Distribution,” the norm adopted by computer engineers in the ’90s that established UNIX-based operating systems as open-source. “A lot of the software that runs the world today is not under commercial license,” he says.

TELL US, do you think cannabis genetics should be free for public use?

The post A Quick Guide to Cannabis Patents: What You Need to Know appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Pulp Fiction: Hemp Paper vs. Wood-Based Paper

Despite the fact that we’re living in the heyday of digital media, paper consumption is actually on the upswing — in the last 20 years alone, it’s risen 126 percent. About 208 million tons of paper are used worldwide each year and many of these paper products are used once and then thrown away. In the United States, for example, around 1 billion trees worth of paper is thrown out every year.

You’re probably wondering: Could there be a more environmentally friendly way of making paper? It turns out there is — paper made from hemp. While hemp paper isn’t particularly common, it also isn’t new. Hemp paper was widely used in early American history. Unfortunately, legal restrictions on hemp cultivation have pushed the paper industry into relying mostly on wood. Still, hemp activists aren’t letting this issue rest. They continue to point out the many ways that hemp paper could help shift our environmental crisis into a sustainable future.

Here are five reasons for switching to hemp paper:

Hemp Is a Highly Renewable Resource

One big reason to switch to hemp is that it is a highly renewable source of paper. While trees are also renewable, it takes 20 to 80 years to replace a tree that has been cut down. Hemp crops, on the other hand, can be replenished and harvested in only 4 months. This means producing more paper for the amount of land being used and saving more of our precious forests.

Hemp Doesn’t Need Toxic Bleach

Another big difference with hemp paper, as opposed to paper sourced from trees, is in the way hemp is processed. Wood paper requires toxic bleaching chemicals, such as chlorine or dioxins, to whiten the paper. These chemicals from paper mills can actually poison the waterways. Hemp on the other hand, can be whitened with hydrogen peroxide, which doesn’t pose the same environmental risks.

Hemp Heals the Soil

Hemp can also help by improving the soil it is grown in. One way it does this is through phytoremediation, which is when the plant pulls toxic substances out of the soil through its roots. In fact, hemp is so well suited for this that it has been used near Chernobyl to clean up radioactive contaminants from the famous nuclear explosion. In Italy, hemp has also been used to clean up dioxins in the soil (ironically, the same toxic chemical that is used in bleaching wood for paper).

Hemp Is Stronger & Lasts Longer

Hemp also creates much stronger and more durable paper than typical paper. Paper from wood quickly decomposes and yellows. On the other hand, hemp is one of the strongest natural fibers in the world. It doesn’t yellow and resists decomposition with age. For longer-use paper like books and artwork, hemp can’t be beat.

Hemp Can Be Recycled More Times

When it comes to paper waste, recycling can make a big difference. Wood-based paper can only be recycled three times before it is unusable, while hemp paper can be recycled seven to eight times.

But despite these points in favor of hemp paper, there are still barriers to switching to hemp. Legal restrictions make it difficult for farmers to grow hemp and the technology for processing it isn’t as advanced as for wood paper. In fact, there are only 23 paper mills in the world that are equipped to use hemp. This means hemp paper is more expensive and harder to find, but with more demand, this could change. There are hemp versions of most paper products, from printer paper to packaging. There are even hemp rolling papers. When buying paper products, ask about potential options made from hemp. It’s a small step that could make big changes.

Originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

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The post Pulp Fiction: Hemp Paper vs. Wood-Based Paper appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Government Assistance Options for U.S. Hemp Farmers Affected By COVID-19

After decades of prohibition, the 2018 Farm Bill granted full legal status to hemp a couple years ago. Many thought this would be the end of various challenges that have been plaguing those in the industry for years.

This is actually true, for people in the hemp industry, many new rights have been achieved these last couple of years. This includes advances on the banking front and many, much-needed benefits for farmers. Unfortunately though, the U.S. hemp industry has been off to a rough start and the current COVID-19 has only made the road ahead even bumpier, especially for farmers.

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Ongoing Challenges in the Hemp Industry

For years, hemp farmers (as well as everyone else in the hemp, CBD, and cannabis industries) historically struggled with banking. They were unable to have access to banking, business loans, and other services offered by large financial institutions. Another common problem, and one that was specific to farmers, was a lack of crop insurance. Should a natural disaster (or global pandemic) occur that impacted a farmer’s crops or business, they would have been, for lack of a better word, totally and utterly screwed.

But that all changed thanks to the passing of the updated, 2018 farm bill, which legalized hemp and offered farmers and business owners a new level of institutional support. However, that doesn’t mean other challenges don’t continue to pop up.

In addition to ongoing issues with law enforcement and those who still stigmatize hemp and confuse it with cannabis/marijuana, the industry has some unique issues such as: FDA delays with establishing regulation of CBD products, manufactured CBD products continue to be regulated under the controlled substances act, extremely prohibitive federal cultivation restrictions with “heavy DEA presence”, a hemp market that’s facing oversupply and plummeting values.

COVID-19 Is Adding to
the Problem

As if all the aforementioned struggles weren’t bad enough, now hemp farmers face additional challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers and small business owners (in all industries not just hemp) have been hit particularly hard these last few weeks.  

Cannabis Use During the COVID-19 Outbreak – A Look At The Numbers

“Agriculture
is deemed essential, but there’s an agricultural dynamic that’s being created
by the pandemic where it’s interfering with the supply chain,” said Tim
Gordon, president of the Colorado Hemp Industries Association. “These
disruptions are going all the way to the hemp farmers.”

“More than 17,000 farmers
licensed to grow hemp are experiencing significant headwinds and instability as
a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and must be able to access disaster relief
programs that can support them now,” Eric Steenstra, president of Vote
Hemp, mentioned in a statement.

Benefits For Hemp Farmers During the Pandemic

Although this is obviously not good news, the silver lining is that since hemp is federally legal now, industry businesses are eligible for for Small Business Administration loans, federal stimulus packages, federal and state agricultural grant programs, tax relief, and other benefits.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) both provide economic relief for small businesses (and hemp farmers) impacted by COVID-19. Unfortunately, SBA policy dictates that marijuana and ancillary businesses are not eligible for benefits.

Additionally, new legislation added another $10 billion to the disaster loan programand increased paycheck protection funding from to $349 to $659 billion after the initial amount quickly ran out. A record number of businesses applied, including some large chains with more than 500 employees. However, the majority of funds went to smaller companies.

CBD Flowers 101: 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Loan Programs

Let’s take a quick look at what loan programs are available for hemp farmers and small business owners and what each package includes.

SBA Loans:

  • Paycheck Protection Program (which quickly exhausted funds but was replenished by Congress last week by $321 billion).
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and advances.
  • Small businesses and farms are eligible.

EIDL Loans:

  • Up to $2 million in
    loas to be used for payroll, fixed debts and other bills.
  • Up to $10,000 without
    repayment if used for: Paid sick leave. Maintaining payroll to retain
    employees. Meeting increased costs as a result of interrupted supply chains,
    rent or mortgage payments or to repay obligations that can’t be met because of
    revenue losses.

Additional benefits include Payment Protection Program loans, which allow borrowers to cover payroll, rent payment or mortgage interest, and other business-related costs. PPP loans are forgivable and they’re processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Funding for this program is expected to continue.

Also available is the SBA
Express Bridge loans that provide expedited loans of up to $25,000 for
disaster-related purposes. These loans are processed quickly and can be
used to bridge the gap while applying for EIDL or PPP. Express Bridge loans must
be repaid in full, and due to the ongoing crisis, they will be approved through
March 12, 2021.

Even More For Farmers

In addition to programs
listed above, the CARES Act appropriated relief funds specifically to the
agricultural sector. These include:

  • $9.5 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide financial support to farmers and ranchers.
  • $14 billion to the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC), which will allow the USDA to develop new support programs to help agricultural businesses.
  • Extensions on repayment of commodity marketing assistance loans.

Last week, the USDA
announced a $19 billion agricultural relief package, providing direct payments
to farmers based on commodity losses. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
confirmed that the $500 million earmarked for “other crops” includes hemp. This
package includes:

  • $9.6 billion for the livestock industry.
  • $3.9 billion to row crop producers.
  • $2.1 billion to specialty crop producers.
  • $500 million for other crops.

Hemp farmers also might be eligible for the USDA’s $16 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which will provide additional subsidies for commodity losses.

What’s the Deal with Organic Regulation for Cannabis?

Other Non-emergency
Farm Service Agency loans may or may not be available for hemp farmers. These include
but are not limited to: direct operating loans, farm ownership loans, USDA
organic certification cost sharing programs, farm storage facility loans, and
specialty loans for minority and women farmers, novice farmers, and Native American
Tribes.

Hemp farmers should
also consider looking into state-level benefits. Many states including Colorado,
California, and Kentucky are offering added benefits and relief packages, on top
of what one would get from the federal government.

For more information and updates to these loan programs, check out the USDA’s Resource Guide.

Final Thoughts

Even though there is never a good time for a global pandemic, at the very least it happened after hemp became federally legal, meaning these hard-working farmers can at least access some benefits to prevent them from being completely bankrupted by the COVID-19 crisis. For more information or if you need help applying for any of these program, contact us directly at info@cbdtesters.co.

Thank you for stopping by, check back frequently and make sure to subscribe to the CBD Flowers Business Newsletter to stay up-to-date on all things relating to the hemp and cannabis industries.

The post Government Assistance Options for U.S. Hemp Farmers Affected By COVID-19 appeared first on CBD Testers.

New U.S. Hemp Lobby Formed As Research Reveals Industry’s Potential

Hemp growers in the U.S. fear they are being stigmatized as ‘marijuana growers’ as new research demonstrates the massive potential of the industry.

The U.S. hemp industry has got off to a flying start following the passing of last December’s Farm Bill with 20,000 cultivation licences issued, says Whitney Economics.

Its report: ‘The Field of Dreams: An Economic Survey of the United States Hemp Cultivation Industry’, says the industry has already created 150,000 jobs. It says hemp is set to become the third largest agricultural crop in the United States by revenue, second only to corn and soy.


Major U.S. Cash Crop

And, goes on to say that if hemp supply chain issues are resolved it could generate revenues of around $11.3 billion – around ‘6% of the total value of the entire U.S. cash crops’.

The rapid growth of the industry has prompted the formation of The Hemp Federation of America (HFA) in October. The goal of the association is to ‘foster a sustainable market for industrial hemp grown in the U.S. for food, fuel and fiber use and other products’.

Its members gathered in Washington recently to visit Capitol Hill and speak to Department of Agriculture officials and push for policies that support the industry. HFA has been founded by Chris Thorne, a former aide to ex-Senator Kent Conrad, and a partner at Independent Public Affairs, and Scott Graves, a former aide to Republican Senator Mike Conaway and a partner at Williams & Jensen.

One of its members Derek Azevedo, executive vice president at Bowles Farming Company in California, told reporters that: “Every facet of this industry is new and underdeveloped.”

Not Marijuana Farming

He identified pressing issues that need addressing which included; immigration, financial services, transportation and regulations. Other farmers in the federation spoke about how the cannabis industry can be confused with the hemp industry.

 Mike Gaynier, principal at Weather Management Solutions in Michigan, said: “What’s interesting and still problematic is the public perception still is, if you’re raising hemp, you’re raising marijuana. This is not marijuana, this is different crop.” 

Other key finding from the Whitney Economic survey include:

  • 34 states had issued licenses with somewhere between 450,000 and 500,000 acreage under cultivation.
  • The average acres per hemp farm in the US is 27.26 acres, with 75% of farms less than 20 acres.
  • Supply chain issues are impacting the industry resulting in roughly only one-third of licensed acres coming to market.

For more stories like this one, subscribe to the CBD Business Weekly Newsletter.

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Farm Bill’s Hemp Growing Guidelines ‘Welcomed’ By Industry

The United States hemp industry is finally coming in from the cold with the release of new guidelines on how it will be regulated 

Late last year President Trump signed off the 2018 Farm Bill lighting the touch paper on the growth of the hemp industry. The Associated Press (A.P.) reports Greg Ibach, the United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) undersecretary for farm production and conservation, as saying 500,000 acres has been grown this year, compared to 120,000 in 2018.

But, the industry has still been waiting details on how it will be regulated and the latest announcement is set to give that clarity to state and federal regulators, growers and the rest of the supply chain.


Regulating Hemp Production

In a press release  the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the establishment of the Domestic Hemp Production Program, would create ‘a consistent regulatory framework around hemp production throughout the United States’. A.P. reports that many ‘states have waited for months so they can begin widespread hemp production’.

The rules – effective for a two year ‘trial’ period – establish requirements for licensing, maintaining records on the land where hemp will be grown, testing the levels of THC and the disposal of plants that do not meet requirements.

The U.S.D.A. has also issued guidelines for sampling and testing, which says the testing of plants must be done in a Drug Enforcement Administration-registered laboratory and must be conducted within 15 days of the harvest. 

Plant Heights Under Scrutiny

The concentration of THC must be below 0.3% and ‘plants measuring too high must be destroyed’, it says. At least 47 states have passed laws to establish hemp production programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Exceptions include South Dakota, Idaho and Mississippi.

The Marijuana Business Daily website says the regulations ‘don’t look nearly as restrictive as some feared, with no regulations requiring certified seeds or limiting exports of hemp products’. But, it goes on to say hemp farmers are already complaining the rules set unreasonable thresholds for THC variance and don’t give cultivators an opportunity to challenge lab tests showing their hemp is non-compliant.

Mr Ibach added: “I think the experience that producers have this fall with harvesting their crop, handling their crop, finding buyers for their crop is going to be very instructive as to whether or not we see continued growth in the hemp industry or whether or not producers take a step back.”

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Monday, August 19, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Monday, August 19, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Illicit Cannabis Vape Carts Hospitalized 7 in California Doctors Say (Leafly)

// ‘I feel lucky for real’: How legalizing hemp accidentally helped marijuana suspects (NBC News)

// FBI investigating possible corruption in US cannabis industry (Marijuana Business Daily)


Today’s headlines are brought to you by our friends over at McCabe Law LLC of Portland Maine, which is partnering with the Climate Resources Group to throw a series of cannabis seminars starting Tuesday, August 20th, and running every 20th of the month through October. Attendees will get the straight scoop on the best way to get started in Maine’s legal cannabis industry. Find out more and purchase your own ticket at https://www.mccabelawllc.com/seminars.html.


// Marijuana giant Harvest agrees to relinquish two dispensary permits after Pennsylvania probe (Philadelphia Inquirer)

// Ex-Cop is First Individual Licensed to Sell Medical Cannabis in Canada (Leafly)

// Barbados latest Caribbean country to propose sweeping medical cannabis law (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Canopy executive compensation surges to $28.5 million following pot legalization (BNN Bloomberg)

// Texas School District Will Now Expel Any Student Caught with a THC Vape Pen (Merry Jane)

// Second manufacturer joins Iowa’s medical marijuana program (KPVI 6 NBC)

// Whitefield Farmers Test New Market with Pick-Your-Own Hemp Fields (Lincoln County News)


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