As you may recall from last fall, the Mountain State’s US Attorney sought and obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) against a hemp company, alleging that it did not
comply with the regulations of the state’s agricultural pilot program. Specifically, the
suit argued that the West Virginia company illegally imported seeds from a Kentucky
pilot program participant. According to the complaint, the law requires all hemp seed
to be imported from overseas.
Of course, that’s not the law, and Frost Brown Todd’s Carte Goodwin filed a motion to dismiss in federal court. The Court initially removed the TRO, and last week, formally
dismissed the government’s case. The Court concluded that because the 2018 Farm
Bill removed industrial hemp from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act, the
federal government had no jurisdiction to inject itself into areas of oversight that
Congress reserved to the states.
“This is a significant win for the hemp industry not only in West Virginia but the United States,” said Goodwin. “Hemp is not the same as marijuana and should not be treated
the same. It is an agricultural product that opens a new source of revenue for farmers and businesses across the country.”
But wait, West Virginia, there’s more!
On Saturday, the West Virginia legislature passed House Bill 2694 that expands the
state’s hemp program, makes it compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill, and importantly,
provides explicit protection for the retail sale of hemp products including cannabidiol (CBD). Much of the US Hemp Roundtable’s model bill language was incorporated in the final bill, including:
• Notwithstanding any provision of the code to the contrary, a person need not obtain a license to possess, handle, transport, or sell hemp products or extracts, including
those containing one or more hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD.
• Products containing one or more hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as CBD, intended for ingestion are to be considered foods, not controlled substances or adulterated
• Applicable state agencies shall make available any and all customary registrations to the processors and manufacturers of hemp products.
• Retail sales of hemp products may be conducted when the products and the hemp
used in the products were grown and cultivated legally in another state or jurisdiction and meet the same or substantially the same requirements for processing hemp
products or growing hemp under this article and rules promulgated under §19-2E-7 of
• Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, derivatives of
hemp, including hemp-derived cannabidiol, may be added to cosmetics, personal care products, and products intended for animal or human consumption, and the addition is not considered an adulteration of the products.
• Hemp and hemp products may be legally transported across state lines, and
exported to foreign nations, consistent with U. S. federal law and laws of respective
We owe a huge thanks to Delegate Gary Howell; Senators Dave Sypolt, Sue Cline and Bob Beach; and West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.
Commissioner Leonhardt must now promulgate legislative rules implementing the
changes to the statute and that process should begin a few months. Stay tuned for
any future updates on West Virginia.
Due to unforeseeable circumstances the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of WV Mike Stuart is unable to attend the conference and speak on the topic of enforcement priorities. In his place we are proud to announce Ryan J. Umina, Esquire of Cranston & Edwards, PLLC will discuss the various legal and regulatory risks associated with operating hemp or cannabis enterprises in West Virginia.
Please join us for the 2019 Strategic Cannabis Conference being held at the WVU College of Law in Morgantown, West Virginia on Friday, March 1st. The event will also be live streamed for those who are unable to attend in person. Please visit the link for more info and to register:
When: March 1, 2019 9:30-7:00
Where: WVU College of Law Event Center Morgantown, WV
I encourage anyone seeking CLE credit as well as anyone interested in furthering their legal knowledge when it comes to the ever growing and changing landscape of the cannabis industry to check out the conference we have been tirelessly working on. We are also broadcasting if you are unable to make it in person but are interested in attending.
Cannabis policy is rapidly evolving across the country, raising a host of legal issues for lawyers, regulators, law enforcement, and industry leaders. Our goal is to engage lawyers, policy experts, government officials, and business entrepreneurs to strategically navigate the legal issues for hemp and cannabis industries and to provide predictability for this industry in West Virginia. Please see the following agenda below for the list of topics and expert speakers that will be presented at the conference as well as instructions on how to attend.
Mike Stuart, on behalf of the federal government, is suing CAMO Hemp WV, and Grassy Run Farms. Because the charges are civil and not criminal, the farmers’ plants, property, equipment and seeds could all be seized and forfeited to the government. Stuart’s complaint states the U.S. is subject to receive either $250,000 in civil penalties or twice the sum of the defendants’ gross receipts, whichever is greater.
The farmers’ attorneys argue the Agricultural Act of 2014 — commonly referred to as the Farm Bill — which is still current law, protects their rights to grow hemp under state laws. Also, the Farm Bill and related provisions of a federal appropriations bill together state that no congressional appropriated funds can prevent the transportation, processing or sale of hemp under a state program authorized under the federal legislation.
In other words, Stuart’s office cannot spend “federal appropriations to interfere with or otherwise frustrate the intrastate or interstate transportation of industrial hemp grown or cultivated as part of a Farm Bill-authorized agriculture pilot program.”
While Judge Robert C. Chambers has not yet issued a final ruling on the case, he sided with the defendants in part and struck down pieces of a temporary restraining order and will now allow the farmers to harvest, dry and process the “marijuana,” although he ruled they cannot transport or sell it at the moment.
Now more than ever we need to band together to stick up for WV Hemp in our continued fight for pro-cannabis legislation.
Hemp is an ancient plant that has been cultivated for millennia. The Columbia History of the World (1996) states that weaving of hemp fiber began over 10,000 years ago! Carbon tests have suggested that the use of wild hemp dates as far back as 8000 B.C.
In Great Britain, hemp cultivation dates back to 800AD. In the 16th Century, Henry VIII encouraged farmers to plant the crop extensively to provide materials for the British Naval fleet. A steady supply of hemp was needed for the construction of battleships and their components. Riggings, pendants, pennants, sails, and oakum were all made from hemp fiber and oil. Hemp paper was used for maps, logs, and even for the Bibles that sailors may have brought on board.
Cultivation : Hemp drying
17th Century America, farmers in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut were ordered by law to grow Indian hemp. By the early 18th century, a person could be sentenced to jail if they weren’t growing hemp on their land! Hemp was considered to be legal tender. For over 200 years in colonial America, hemp was currency that one could use to pay their taxes with! (Don’t try that today, kids!) The 1850 U.S. census documented approximately 8,400 hemp plantations of at least 2000 acres. Strains in cultivation included China hemp, Smyrna hemp and Japanese hemp.
For years, hemp farmers used a hand break operated machine when harvesting. Finally a machine was built that would take care of all the processes, breaking the retted stalks and cleaning the fiber to produce clean, straight hemp fiber which was equal to the best grades prepared on hand brakes. This machine was able to harvest 1000 pounds or more of clean hemp fiber per hour. This breakthrough made cultivating more fiscally attractive by reducing labor costs. By 1920 the hemp crop was entirely handled by machinery.
In 1896 Rudolph Diesel had produced his famous engine. Like many others, Diesel assumed that the diesel engine would be powered by a variety of fuels, especially vegetable and seed oils. Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company seeing the potential of biomass fuels operated a successful biomass conversion plant producing hemp fuel at their Iron Mountain facility in Michigan. Ford engineers extracted methanol, charcoal fuel, tar, pitch, ethyl acetate and creosote, fundamental ingredients for modern industry. Today these are supplied by oil-related industries.
Viewing hemp as a threat, a smear campaign against hemp was started by competing industries, associating hemp with marijuana. Propaganda films like “Reefer Madness” assured hemp’s demise. When Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, the decline of hemp effectively began. The tax and licensing regulations of the act made hemp cultivation nearly impossible for American farmers. Anslinger, the chief promoter of the Tax Act, argued for anti-marijuana legislation around the world.
An interesting situation arose during World War II as American Farmers were prohibited from producing hemp because of the 1937 law. However, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor halted the importation of Manila hemp from the Philippines, prompting the USDA to rethink their agenda and creating a call to action with the release of the film Hemp for Victory, motivating American Farmers to grow hemp for the war effort. The government formed a private company called War Hemp Industries to subsidize hemp cultivation. One million acres of hemp were grown across the Midwest as part of this program. As soon as the war ended, all of the hemp processing plants were shut down and the industry again disappeared. However, wild hemp may be found scattered across the country.
From 1937 until the late 1960s the United States government recognized that Industrial Hemp and marijuana were two distinct varieties of the cannabis plant. After the Controlled Substances Act was passed, hemp was no longer recognized as being distinct from marijuana.
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant. Hemp may be the most useful plant known to man kind. In fact, cannabis sativa means useful(sativa) hemp(cannabis). It is used to make over 25,000 different products, most of which are superior alternatives to less environmentally friendly products. Some of the products made are: clothing, shoes, diapers, rope, canvas, cellophane, paints, fuels, chain lubricants, biodegradable plastics, paper, fiberboard, cement blocks, food, cosmetics, and soap. The reemergence of hemp is slowly but steadily progressing within the United States while gaining full government support in other nations. Industrial hemp is frequently confused with marijuana in the United States mainly due to a lack of understanding of the plants.
Both hemp and medicinal marijuana come from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa L. (not to be confused by sativa and indica), the definition of hemp according to the National Laboratories is:
THC+CBN/CBD < 1
This definition supersedes the 0.3% THC definition, of which has no origin.
The most commonly seen modern hemp product is clothing. Hemp clothing is warmer, softer, more absorbent, extremely breathable and significantly longer lasting than clothing made from cotton. It is nice to have clothing that looks like linen, feels like flannel, and wears two to three times longer than other fabrics, but this is just the beginning
The seeds are an excellent nutritional source that can provide quality fats and proteins. The hemp seed oil is utilized for it’s healing qualities in many salves and cosmetics but can also be used to create paint, varnishes, lubricants, and much more. The high fiber content of hemp makes it a natural resource for building materials, papermaking, and even biodegradable plastics. Hemp is a presently viable environmentally sound energy source.
State CBD laws are all different from each other and are all narrowly focused. Additionally, and more importantly, none of the State CBD laws are controlling over the General CBD laws. Currently, sixteen states have enacted laws regarding CBD. These states are: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The real issue is the relationship between these State CBD laws and the General CBD laws. To the extent that the State CBD laws specifically govern CBD, as opposed to hemp oil formulations containing THC in levels that are otherwise prohibited, State CBD laws are simply and wholly subsumed by the General CBD laws. To be more blunt, they are irrelevant and unenforceable. Aside from the State specific laws allowing THC at levels not otherwise permitted, State CBD laws are nothing more than toothless creatures, unable to do any harm (or good), except to confuse the issue.
The legality or illegality of CBD is primarily based on its source. This is strange, for sure. But it’s an unintended result of the case and statutory law that has grown up around hemp. In particular, hemp from abroad, which has been legal for many years, has a different “legal genealogy” from domestic hemp, which has only been legal to cultivate in the US since 2014.
Domestically sourced CBD: If CBD is extracted from the “marijuana” plant (ie, more than 0.3% THC) then it is Federally illegal. If it is extracted from the “industrial hemp” plant pursuant to state hemp laws that comply with the 2014 Farm Bill then it is legal within that state. Based on section 763 of the the 2015 Omnibus Spending Bill no Federal Funds can be used to interfere with hemp (or its products) so long as it was cultivated in a hemp-legal state. This provision explicitly extends to non-interference in states that have not enacted hemp laws. (This funding issue is essentially the same issue that was addressed in the MMJ context in the 9th Circuit McIntosh case.) So, from a practical standpoint state-legal hemp products are Federally legal throughout the US. However, since the Omnibus Spending bill only affects funding, it doesn’t trigger the Supremacy Clause (the clause in the Constitution that says Federal law trumps state law); therefore, states in which hemp and its products remain illegal and who do not utilize Federal Funds (to the extent that any such states actually exist) can enforce their anti-cannabis laws to prohibit CBD sales or use.
Foreign sourced CBD: If the CBD is sourced from an “industrial hemp” plant from abroad, and it contains less than 0.3% THC, it is Federally legal in all 50 states pursuant to the Hemp Indus. cases. Furthermore, the Supremacy Clause is implicated with respect to foreign sourced hemp since the laws arise out of Federal cases deciding substantive issues of law and not through a funding provision, making those CBD products legal under state law, too. This is the major legal method by which CBD merchants are able to sell CBD nationwide. (The quality of foreign-sourced CBD can be more difficult to ascertain, for sure, but that’s an entirely different issue from the legal status.)
FDA “overlay”: Finally, the FDA has recently stepped and announced that edible products in which CBD has been added violate the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act. This doesn’t apply to products made from CBD rich hemp oil, only those edible products to which CBD isolate has been added. As you are probably aware, the FDA also contends that CBD cannot be sold as a dietary supplement.
Intriguing issues remain in the CBD world, such as how to acquire certified hemp seed, how state medical CBD laws (like Carly’s Law, Rylie’s Law, Hayleigh’s Hope, etc.) play into the larger CBD and hemp scheme, and how the laws for CBD isolate differ slightly from the laws for CBD -rich “hemp oil”, particularly with respect to the FDA.
Yesterday, as long anticipated, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved GW Pharmaceutical’s Epidiolex, a cannabidiol (CBD) oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two forms of epilepsy. Please see the FDA’s press release here, and this statement from the FDA’s Commissioner.
The US Hemp Roundtable has reviewed the release with its FDA counsel, Amin Talati Upadhye (ATU). Here are our preliminary conclusions:
- Fundamentally, Epidiolex’s approval has no legal impact on the sale of hemp-derived CBD.
- The FDA focuses its concern on the “proliferation and illegal marketing of unapproved CBD-containing products with unproven medical claims.” The agency notes that its recent Warning Letters have been aimed at companies that make such “unproven medical claims.” The Roundtable applauds the FDA’s efforts to target bad actors in the industry who undermine legitimate hemp-derived products by making unproven claims. We look forward to working with federal and state agency officials through our continuing efforts to develop standards, best practices and a self-regulated organization (SRO) for the industry.
- In ATU’s informed opinion, the arguments related to the marketing of hemp-derived CBD as a dietary supplement remain the same as before FDA’s approval of Epidiolex. ATU contends that hemp-derived CBD was marketed as a food or dietary supplement prior to the institution of substantial clinical investigation of Epidiolex that was made public by GW Pharmaceuticals, and even prior to the date on which FDA authorized the article for investigation as a drug. This would mean that dietary supplement versions of hemp-derived CBD would be permissible.
- Given that the FDA’s approval of Epidiolex raises the visibility of hemp-derived CBD products, it is even more critical that Congress passes the Hemp Farming Act to permanently establish hemp and hemp-derived products as agricultural commodities, removing them from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act. We encourage supporters of hemp and hemp-derived CBD to use our web portal to contact their Congressmen today to urge them to support passage of the Hemp Farming Act.
Support Our Efforts
Our GoFundMe campaign is still up and running – and we need your help to keep educating fellow West Virginians about the benefits of industrial hemp. Please consider supporting our efforts by making a donation. (You’ll get some pretty cool rewards, too.)
Location: 113 Ann Street Parkersburg, WV 26101
Date: 06/05/2018 to 06/09/2018
Time: 11:00am to 4:00pm
Phone: (304) 917-9189
Each day we will focus on a different sector of the plan with educational workshops to accompany them. We will offer discounted products all week as well, as this event will be held in our retail store in downtown Parkersburg. Tues – Hemp Paper Education (Workshop to be scheduled to Elishewa Shalom) Wed – Hemp Construction (Presentation – WV hemp harmer Clay Condon has built a hemp house and is a business partner) Thurs – Hemp Nutraceuticals (Presentation – Bonnie Buchman (RN, PhD, MD) discussing cannabinoid therapeutic potential) Fri – How to Farm Hemp (Presentation – Morgan Leach will be presenting the application and developmental process of farming hemp) Sat – Legislative Support (Workshop – Morgan Leach writing your representatives to support industrial hemp legislation at the local, state, and federal level.
Location: 216 East Ave Thomas, WV 26292
Time: 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Come celebrate Hemp History Week all week long at Tip Top in historic Thomas, WV. There will be a table with hemp fabric swatches, rope, threads, historical information, stickers and buttons during the week and an event on Friday (Grass-fed Burger Night!), June 8, from 5:30-8pm. We will provide hemp treats to sample and New Belgium’s Hemperor HPA hemp beer will be on tap (it’s delicious.) Come on out and experience the many uses of hemp!!!
Location: WV State Fair grounds 947 Maplewood Ave Lewisburg, WV 24901
Date: 06/09/2018 to 06/10/2018
TIme: 8:00pm to 2:00pm
Join us to celebrate National Hemp History Week! Learn more of the history of hemp in WV, the nation and the bright future Hemp is bringing back now! “Hemp can be catalyst for agriculture in West Virginia providing farmers with a high yield cash crop, but the real impact will come in the downstream industries that will provide jobs in both the industrial and energy sectors of the state.” Hemp has the potential of becoming a significant commercial industry for the U.S. Currently, the U.S. imports more hemp than any other country in the world, and the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. reached $573 million in 2015, according to Hemp Industries Association. Allowing hemp to be grown domestically on a commercial scale would provide a significant economic boost to U.S. processors and manufacturers”.~Morgan Leach WV Farmers Co-op For the first time since World War II, hemp seeds will be legally planted in West Virginia. Industrial Hemp is the best source of CBD Oil for possible health benefits that rival those of medical marijuana that is legal and available without prescriptions or cards. It is below the FDA legal limit of 0.3% THC. It contains a wealth of cannaboids and healthy Omegas! Industrial hemp is used to produce paper, food, fuel, textiles, fabrics, bioplastics, and building and construction materials. 🌎 By the mid-1600s, hemp had become an important part of the economy in New England, and south to Maryland and Virginia. The Colonies produced cordage, cloth, canvas, sacks and paper from hemp during the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. Most of the fiber was then destined for British consumption, although at least some was used for domestic purposes. Ironically, the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence were penned on hemp paper. 📜 Hemp fiber was so important to the young Republic that farmers were compelled by patriotic duty to grow it, and were allowed to pay taxes with it. George Washington grew hemp and encouraged all citizens to sow hemp widely. Thomas Jefferson bred improved hemp varieties, and invented a special brake for crushing the plant’s stems during fiber processing.
Facebook Event Link: Click Here
Berkeley Springs, WV
Location: 25 Troubadour Lane Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Date: 06/09/2018 to 06/09/2018
Time: 8:00am to 12:00am
All Grassed Up is joining us to wrap up Hemp History Week 2018! No cover charge, we are here to spread the word, listen to great music and have fun. Petitions and literature will be on hand as well as someone to answer questions and provide information regarding the uses and benefits of industrial hemp. Weather permitting, we will be set up in the park with the outdoor stage. We thank both Promising Leith and All Grassed Up for helping us put these events together for Hemp History Week.
Facebook Event Link: Click Here
New Martinsville, WV
Location: Wetzel County Farmers Market, Bruce Park, New Martinsville, WV 26155
Come see The Garden Path to learn, sample, and find out what you can do to support growing industrial hemp in WV! The Garden Path grows and provides old-time varieties of produce, herbs, and plants grown in as natural environment as possible. It will be a HEMPTASTIC time!
The story of the Rodale Institute’s pioneering research on organic, no-till farming of hemp in Pennsylvania. Their hemp study focuses on hemp’s benefit to soil health and crop rotations within a regenerative agriculture model, and will provide farmers the necessary tools and knowledge to successfully farm hemp commercially once federal prohibition of the crop is lifted. Learn more about Hemp History Week, June 4 -10, 2018, and sign up to get involved at www.hemphistoryweek.com
Mark your calendars and join us in Washington, DC for Hemp Lobby Day on Thursday June 7th and make your voice heard! Last year, hemp advocates conducted over 75 meetings with members and their staff and educated them on the need for legislation to allow for full commercial hemp farming at the state level. To date, thirty-four states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. Join us in helping pass the Hemp Farming Act.
“The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would remove industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and allows it to be regulated as an agricultural crop. The bill places federal regulatory authority of hemp with USDA and requires State departments of agriculture to file their hemp program plans with USDA but allows them to regulate hemp cultivation per their State specific programs. In addition to defining hemp as cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, the bill asserts a ‘whole plant’ definition of hemp, including plant extracts. If passed, the bill would remove roadblocks to the rapidly growing hemp industry in the U.S., notably by authorizing and encouraging access to federal research funding for hemp, and remove restrictions on banking, water rights, and other regulatory roadblocks the hemp industry currently faces. The bill would also explicitly authorize crop insurance for hemp.”
This event is organized by Vote Hemp and Agricultural Hemp Solutions. Click below to sign up to attend and they will schedule meetings with your Senators and Representative and prepare materials to make your day successful. Don’t miss this opportunity to help us make history by bringing back commercial hemp farming in the U.S.