Farm Bill & November Voting 2018…Part 2

November 1st, 2018 by Cara Oorbeck

2018 Farm Bill

Co-authored By: Op-ed Blogger, Quinton Charles & Green Wellness Life Operations Guru, Cara Oorbeck

A Lot Happening With Hemp

In 2018, 38 plus states considered legislation relating to hemp including current law clarification, removing current legislative obstacles and establishing new programs and research.  The hemp industry is moving in many directions and has the potential for new and innovative products in a variety of areas which include paper, fabric, health and beauty products, animal feed, food, insulation and so much more. The 2018 Farm Bill and its possible legislative effects, should it be voted into law is an enormous step forwards in federal Hemp policy, and has already cleared the Senate’s agricultural committee.  However unresolved issues in the proposed Bill prevented an agreement before the Bills deadline on September 30th (food stamps, crop insurance, and some cotton provisions) and most experts agree that the Bill’s future depends on who keeps or gains control of the House of Representatives after November 6, 2018.

Some Of The Key Players

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is arguably one of the most powerful men in the Senate as well as one of the biggest hemp supporters. McConnell proposed and added the current Farm Bill’s section regarding industrial Hemp and the legalization of production of raw Hemp on a large scale . He believed that Hemp-growing jobs and investment would make up for a decrease in tobacco cultivation in his home state of Kentucky. While there isn’t a loss in tobacco agriculture, a similar increase in cultivation could occur in other fertile states (like Michigan) with the capability of growing Hemp.

  • Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas; chairman, House Committee on Agriculture). He wants to keep farm spending where it is and make reforms on the nutrition title of the farm bill.
  • Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). He supported reducing nutrition program spending in the Bill. and eligibility “reforms” that would be supported by House leadership.
  • Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Grassley is a major proponent of payment limits — limiting the kinds of payments based on means testing(whether an individual or family is eligible for government assistance). Others with similar views include.
    • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
    • Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
    • Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.)
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)  Will lead Democrats in fighting any cuts to nutrition assistance.
  • Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)Strong interest in cuts to the bill where crop insurance is concerned.
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss., member, U.S. Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee). Will represent the interests of commodities & cotton growers in Mississippi Delta region.
  • Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan., chairman, U.S. Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee). Chairman and ranking member on numerous farm bills in favor of the crop insurance program and risk management programs.
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich., ranking member, U.S. Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee). Chairwoman of the committee during the last farm bill. She has been strong on the environment, and energy programs. She is also supportive of commodity and conservation programs as well.

Most US Senators and Representatives were, and are, in favor of passing the US 2018 Farm Bill, thus making supporting a candidate that would legalize the industrial-scale production of Hemp in the US rather simple. The far more complicated, nuanced issue is voting on issues and supporting Hemp this election season.  “State policymakers have taken action to address various policy issues — Some states establishing these programs require a change in federal laws or a waiver from the DEA prior to implementation.”

Something Else of Importance On A Federal Level

There is petition involving Hemp, filed by the Hemp Industries Association to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, that seeks to challenge the Drug Enforcement Agency’s attempt to classify “hemp-derived non-psychoactive cannabinoids, including cannabidiol, as “marihuana extract,” and append the Controlled Substances Act to add all cannabinoids to its Schedule I” . So far, the petition is still being reviewed, and Hemp is still legal federally. This is just a continued defense of Hemp, and, should the 2018 Farm Bill be passed into law, Hemp would have all legal rights federally as any other crop, including the right to be industrially produced domestically. You can read the full petition here: https://hoban.law/sites/default/files/2017-01/17.01.13%20Petition%20%5Bfinal%5D.pdf.

Green Wellness Life Is Located in Michigan… Voting Issues We Are Facing

There is one piece of legislation that needs to be focused on for voting this fall: Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. This ballot proposal will appear on the voting ballot this fall (2018), and would regulate the sale, production, and use of Cannabis with a high THC content as no different from alcohol within the state. While I cannot stress enough to all of you that Marijuana and Hemp are Separate and Distinct products, and that Hemp is not currently banned under Michigan state law, whereas Marijuana is (for use beyond medically-sanctioned), there is a possibility that a legalization of Marijuana and its regulation as similar to alcohol would ensure that either: access to Cannabis-derived products (possibly Hemp-based, as well) increases as more investment is drawn to the distinct but related markets of Hemp and Cannabis, and that any confusion in regulation of current Cannabis/Hemp industry would cease to exist (read: no chance of government conflating the different plants and  their derived products). Other than these possible benefits to Hemp of legalizing Marijuana in Michigan, as proposed on the ballot, there is little regarding Hemp’s legal status in Michigan up for voting on the ballot. We will leave the decision up to you, the voter, and I hope that you spend the time to read exactly what is being proposed.

Remember, this fall, no matter what your political affiliation, your vote matters.  Learn the issues, read the proposals, stay informed and make your voice heard.

Getting Involved:

  1. Find out who represents you: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members
  2. Contact your representative through social media /Twitter, Facebook and or the local office…Officials do listen.
  3. Stay Informed

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