The Drug Enforcement Administration shocked the nation this week as it seized a shipment of hemp seeds bound for Kentucky’s first legal hemp crop in decades. Not just state-legal, but federally-legal, as Congress recently passed amendments to the Farm Bill that allowed states like Kentucky and nine others with existing hemp laws to begin planting and study hemp as an industrial product. The DEA claimed they were following congressional legislative intent, which came as a surprise to the amendment’s author, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. The 250 pounds of viable hemp seeds from Italy were finally released by the DEA late Tuesday after lengthy conversations by phone with Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who had planned to sue the DEA in federal court if it did not relent by today. The hemp seeds will be planted Friday in a ceremony that will include Vote Hemp and growing Warriors, a veterans’ group that teaches agricultural skills to returning veterans.
Meanwhile in Kentucky, parents who championed the Bluegrass State’s passage of a CBD-only medical marijuana law are finding out it isn’t helping their sick children. Doctors there are telling parents it may be years before the first trials begin in Kentucky, partially due to the fact the use of CBD allowed by state law requires approval from the FDA for a clinical trial. Then there is the expense estimated at potentially $10,000 per participant. Also at issue is the state’s lack of any CBD production, forcing any CBD oil to be used in the state to be imported from Colorado or elsewhere in violation of both Colorado and federal marijuana trafficking laws. Another consideration is that in any clinical trial, there’s a fifty percent chance your child will be in the placebo control group, receiving no CBD oil at all. Many Kentucky parents have given up waiting and have moved to Colorado.
The governor of Minnesota and his supporters in law enforcement are threatening the viability of Minnesota medical marijuana. Competing versions of the bill in the House and Senate are currently being negotiated for a compromise to bring to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk. The governor and law enforcement are adamant about refusing to budge on the House version’s limitations against whole plant marijuana. While both bills forbid smoking of marijuana, the Senate version would allow patients to vaporize herb. The House version only allows edibles, tinctures, and vaporized oils. While Senate negotiators would compromise down from the 55 treatment centers where patients could acquire medicine to only 24 for the state, Dayton supports the House’s version limited to one grow site and three dispensaries and House lawmakers say he’ll never accept up to 24. The Senate’s version is expected to help 35,000 patients, while the House bill only helps 5,000, since it does not include the qualifying conditions of pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, and PTSD the Senate version includes.
The National Football League is reportedly ready to reduce its testing and punishment for marijuana use among players. Rocked by the news that the NFL’s leading wide receiver last year, Josh Gordon, would be benched for a season over his latest failed marijuana test, ESPN reports that inside sources say the league will raise the threshold level of marijuana metabolites needed to test positive for marijuana. Recently the World Anti-Doping Agency, Nevada State Athletic Commission, and other athletic governing bodies have raised their limits from 15ng/mL to 150ng/mL for the express purpose of only catching and disciplining athletes who are potentially using marijuana prior to sporting events, not those who used weeks ago. Talks between the NFL and the Players’ Union are stalled over how discipline would be meted out, especially in cases where drug use is found outside of the NFL’s testing regime, for instance, getting arrested on drug charges.
“We don’t want it to be like California. California was like the wild west,” said New York Senator Diane Savino, the sponsor of the Empire State’s medical marijuana bill. Recent amendments to the New York medical marijuana bill include removing glaucoma as a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana use. “They now have better drugs that can treat glaucoma,” said Sen. Savino, referring to ophthalmologists that urged her to remove protection from arrest for glaucoma patients using pot. However, an amendment has added rheumatoid arthritis to the list of conditions Sen. Savino explains are just the “serious, debilitating, life-threatening condition[s that are] going to be continuous for a very long time.” Sen. Savino says she has the votes to pass her measure in the Senate and the Assembly has already previously passed more liberal medical marijuana language. The Senate President says it is likely to receive a vote before the end of the session in June, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a proposal of his own and appears to not favor the Savino bill.