Right now, the federal government is calling on its citizens to provide commentary regarding the announcement to move cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III substance.

While the industry anxiously awaits direction on what happens next, it has stirred quite a debate on the professional side of the industry. As a journalist, it’s my job to stay aware of the big news impacting the industry.

And let’s just say… my LinkedIn feed is feuding.

On one side, the folks in the legal cannabis industry are jumping for joy — this could signal a major windfall in their favor and could return billions in tax relief. This industry has been begging for standards and regulations to level the playing field.

Not to mention, it’s the first time since 1942 that the US Government has formally admitted that cannabis has medicinal benefits. A huge win for compassionate care advocates.

On the other hand, the hemp producers have had free rein since 2018 — no rules, no regulations, no boundaries. Being regulated like cannabis will put a significant dent in the hemp industry.

And so… the fight is on. Hemp producers are routinely calling cannabis advocates “prohibitionists” for supporting the move.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I’m not sure where I missed the lesson that everything has to be viciously debated, but I’m shocked at the behavior I’m seeing. And the worst part — it’s all for nothing.

Although changing the scheduling status of cannabis is a start, there’s an easy end to cannabis prohibition and the debate between hemp farmers and cannabis cultivators once and for all, and it can all be done in 8 steps or less.

8 Steps to Ending Prohibition and Creating a Fair Market

After covering this industry for eight years from the front lines in Colorado, I’ve learned a great deal about the variances in the laws. While I may not be a lawmaker, I really don’t understand the struggle to figure it out.

Call It By It’s Rightful Name

First things first, we have to call it by its rightful name. Replace the word “Hemp” in the Farm Bill with the word “Cannabis,” and remove the ridiculous potency clause.

I recently wrote about the semantics game in cannabis conversations. Lawmakers and lobbyists want to keep the division — if we’re not on the same page, it’s easier for them to stir confusion to manipulate the outcome.

But we can’t lose sight of the grand prize… it’s all one plant.

Any discussion that THC potency is the end-all-be-all standard in cannabis is antiquated at best. This created the THC chase, encouraged lab shopping, and destroyed lab-testing integrity in the process. Additionally, it’s the THC chase that created the illusion that we must grow cannabis to produce as much THC as possible.

Speak to any educated and experienced cannabis consumer or professional — they know that THC is only one ingredient in the overall pie chart of quality. I’ve dabbed 99% THC crystals, and I’m here to tell you I’ve smoked 17% THC flower that felt more potent.

Likewise, many of today’s “hemp” farmers can attest — it’s not easy to control THC levels; look at how many tons of cannabis were destroyed in 2019–2020 that was hemp testing “hot.” (Isn’t hemp, above .3% considered cannabis by legal definition?) According to a recent article in Ganjapreneur, 42% of hemp crops in Tennessee had to be destroyed, or should we call it cannabis since it was too potent?

Not only that, but many of these unsuspecting industrial hemp farmers faced charges. According to an article in Chemical & Engineering News from 2022, “Under the USDA’s interim rule, any hemp crops that test above 0.3% THC need to be destroyed. If hemp plants have more than 0.5% THC, the grower is charged with negligence. Growers who are found negligent three times are prohibited from growing hemp for five years.”

Inside a legal cannabis grow, THC potency varies from one plant to the next. Hell, THC potency varies from one bud to the next within the same plant. Most of us who have grown the plant understand that the cola (the main flower at the top) is typically the most potent bud. This is why the legal industry must homogenize their samples in order to provide a more accurate potency reading when it’s tested.

Do you see how ridiculous it is to have potency be a determining factor for terminology? Potency is not consistent, and it cannot be predicted or controlled.

I once toured an industrial hemp processing facility in 2019 that had jars and jars and jars of THC isolate lining the shelves in their extraction room. I asked, “So what are you doing to do with the extracted THC?”

They replied, “We don’t know yet; we don’t even know if it’s technically legal.”

The farmer does not control THC production; Mother Nature does. Stop trying to fit farmers into ridiculous limitations that only set them up for failure.

Make Social Justice Reparations Immediately

Look, President Biden even agrees no one should be in jail for possession or even selling cannabis. People are becoming millionaires in the cannabis industry for doing the very same thing that other people are sitting in jail for; and it must stop. Now.

Additionally, we owe it to those people to ensure they aren’t penalized or have their lives interrupted by politically charged laws.

  • Release all non-violent marijuana offenders nationwide and expunge their records so it isn’t looming over future opportunities.
  • Offer cannabis education programs so they have the option to learn how to get into the business now that it’s legal.
  • Create mentorship programs to assist formerly incarcerated individuals with business details, such as accessing business permits, accounting, compliance, advertising, and administrative tasks.

Create USDA Oversight on Cultivation

Cannabis cultivation should be overseen by the USDA. It is an agricultural commodity; treat it like one. The biggest difference in “industrial cannabis” vs. “consumable cannabis” is how it is cultivated.

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