From the Bluegrass State to the White House: the Road Trip to Hemp Legalization
It’s been a blissful day for our company, and the entire hemp industry. For the first time since we began farming hemp in Kentucky in 2014, we can confidently say hemp is permanently, undoubtedly, 100% LEGAL and HERE TO STAY! And, as we know, for the pharmacy this clarity is vital.
Per the 2018 Farm Bill, which was just signed by President Trump, industrial hemp, and all its derivatives (including cannabinoids like CBD!) are completely exempt from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and can be grown by farmers and sold in all 50 states.
It has been a long journey since we set out on this path over five years ago, but we always knew the vision would become a reality. We had confidence in the process, policy makers, lobbyists, and grassroot organizations who have worked tirelessly for this cause. Most importantly, we’ve always known that by contributing to the development of hemp, we could help create jobs and farming incomes while providing innovative solutions that address emerging health and resource sustainability issues.
In light of the legalization of hemp, we wanted to take a moment to share the story behind the fight, to honor the individuals and organizations who championed this victory that will provide opportunity to people around the world.
An End to Hemp Prohibition
In early 2013, a group of Kentuckians decided it was time to end Hemp Prohibition. The Bluegrass State has a proven track record for favorable growing conditions for hemp, and there was no legitimate reason why our farmers shouldn’t be allowed to grow the crop, capitalize on this growing market and provide access to valuable resources to consumers.
And with that, advocates such as Jonathan Miller, Brian Furnish, Ananda’s Director of Global Production, and then Ag Commissioner James Comer set out to legalize hemp production in Kentucky and lobby Capitol Hill to secure a provisional pilot program.
On January 30, 2014, President Barrack Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill, and corresponding Section 7606, which reinvigorated the hemp movement, forever.
Ecofibre Kentucky vs. the DEA
Simultaneously, Ananda Professional’s parent company, Ecofibre Kentucky, received the first commercial license to legally grow hemp on an old tobacco farm in the rolling hills of Northcentral Kentucky. With a vision and a handshake, we committed to growing Ecofibre Ltd.’s Australian seed genetics on the Furnish family farm.
To our surprise, the DEA seized the first seed shipment. Luckily, the Kentucky Department of Ag filed a complaint against the DEA and in a quick, sweeping victory, the seeds were released, and our project received the green light to proceed.
Soon after, Senator Rand Paul also backed the insertion of crucial language into the 2015-16 Omnibus Spending Bill which made commercialization of domestically-grown hemp possible. This is an often-overlooked piece of the puzzle within this five-year journey and we’re extremely grateful for Senator Paul’s commitment to the industry.
From Seed to Sale: Collaboration over Competition
However, legal challenges and uncertainties were still postulated by federal agencies, state authorities, and naysayers. It became clear the industry needed a joint, single lobbying effort to cement the mission.
In 2017, our company and a handful of other hemp leaders co-founded the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a coalition representing every link of the product chain, from seed to sale, to help secure passage of bi-partisan legislation. Within a year, membership has grown significantly to 60 companies that all aligned to fight the good fight. Together.
Now, through the efforts of the Roundtable and other crucial lobbying and grassroots organizations and, most importantly, vast public support, Senator Mitch McConnell has championed and secured permanent hemp legalization knowing it will increase jobs and income to farmers, not only in his home state, but all over the country.
Planting the Seed for a Brighter Future
The power of hemp and its byproducts cannot be denied – the plant will now be the cornerstone of the green revolution, which is already making waves in the healthcare and sustainability industries in our own backyard and around the world.
It is time to plant the seeds. To open our minds and bodies to alternative therapies. To regenerate our soils and eliminate our addiction to chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. To unite as communities and curb hunger, clothe and heal the world, and boost the economy with the powerful and limitless capabilities of industrial hemp.