for the birds
I was recently visiting a friend who’s the head horticulturist for a large thoroughbred horse farm in Kentucky. Several years ago, he went through the necessary steps to legally grow hemp on the farm and he regularly sends me pictures of himself standing amidst giant healthy cannabis plants. I was asking him what the farm used the hemp for, assuming it would be CBD production or just high quality feed for animals. To my surprise, he said it was mainly a good place to practice hunting pigeons for the owners. This struck me as odd, to say the least. “You mean to tell me” I asked him, “that these guys are standing around in a field full of fake weed shooting real pigeons?” Personally, I’d much rather shoot fake pigeons in a field full of real marijuana.
Unfortunately, the world of marijuana is full of odd laws and practices that go well beyond people’s choices in pigeon shooting. Untangling marijuana laws is a nightmare. Recently, the 2018 farm bill passed and there are important changes in hemp legislation. It is now legal to grow hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC. It remains heavily regulated, however, and growers must be licensed within their state through the department of agriculture. This bill has been touted as making CBD legal, but that is only true in a very narrow sense. Any cannabinoid produced according to the farming guidelines in the bill is not considered a scheduled substance. Paradoxically however, CBD as an isolated compound remains a schedule 1 substance under federal law despite this farm bill. There are portions of the bill that support continued research into hemp derived products and the question remains whether researchers will be allowed to use industrial hemp for research trials as a way around the current barriers to researching a schedule 1 substance.
I try to avoid politics, but as a Kentuckian, I have a long history with Mitch Mcconnell. My father used to regularly write him letters complaining about specific policies and, to his credit, he would respond. But I remain skeptical of his motives and suspect that his support of this bill is related to Kentucky’s ideal location for hemp production, but also to the corporate and industrial takeover of marijuana when it eventually becomes legal. Someone is lobbying heavily to create the infrastructure for large scale hemp and marijuana cultivation and I remain concerned that the path we are taking will keep marijuana unnecessarily expensive and over regulated. They don’t call it weed for nothing; let it grow where it wants and leave the pigeons alone.