Hemp flower philosophy is worth discussing because the industry is growing rapidly under relaxed regulations.
Below, we will discuss hemp flower issues from a philosophical perspective. Philosophy is a discipline that provides the tools to analyze and question things.
Importantly, political philosophy bridges a gap between policy makers and researchers. It provides the necessary tools to write, propose, and implement sound policy.
Ideally, the lawmaking process would root itself in empirical research, in an unbiased manor. This would ensure laws are generated on behalf of the public’s best interest. The alternative is the best interest of select power influencers.
Hemp Flower Philosophy Keys
Firstly, law enforcement appears to be dominating the state level regulatory conversations for hemp flower. It is extremely difficult to physically tell the difference between a hemp bud and a marijuana bud. Consequently, it is understandable why law enforcement raised concerns about this.
Secondly, private discussions are under developed. A majority of ‘smokable’ hemp flower brands and farms lack access to hemp flowers with less than 0.3% total potential THC. It appears as if the majority of the hemp flower companies have not acknowledged this yet. This puts companies at risk of missing the protections offered by the 2018 Farm Bill. Importantly, this sounds like a potential breeding ground for enforcement agencies to make an example out of someone. The importance of this very fine (and arbitrary) line in the law will be understood eventually, nonetheless.
Lastly, public discussions are under developed. Public health concerns will be debated on a federal level, in the media, and undoubtedly by competition. The smokable hemp flower industry is relatively chaotic. Furthermore, customers and businesses have to largely trust each other in leu of regulatory oversight.
Law Enforcement’s Hemp Flower Philosophy
Policing has historically been a proactive effort. Law enforcement’s challenges likely predict their contemporary philosophy. For example, fiscal restraints, large control districts, staffing issues, ethical dilemmas, and perhaps socio-legal issues are likely predictors.
Hemp flower related news certainly hints at law enforcement’s hemp flower philosophy. However, despite organizational gaps in law enforcement’s quantitative testing ability, hemp flower should not be banned. In addition, there are sound solutions to address these problems, and prohibition is proven ineffective.
Quantitative Analysis: Challenges and Solutions
Gas chromatography is one of the standard methods for quantifying cannabinoids. Importantly, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, NASDA, encourages states to adopt this standardized method.
However, if gas chromatography were the uniform testing procedure for hemp, it would create a barrier of entry for law enforcement. To effectively equip police officers to quantify THC levels in the field, you need mobile testing equipment. Gas chromatography is stationary equipment, requires cash, and trained operatives.
Current field tests simply detect THC without quantifying the amount. In the past, this was useful for confirming suspected marijuana specimens. However, the legalization of hemp simply antiquated law enforcement’s procedures.
All in all, hemp can be pretty dank, and the political saying “you can’t/don’t smoke hemp” is a myth.
Inspiring Entrepreneurs to Innovate Efficient Testing Solutions
Developing an affordable and effective hand held field test for law enforcement would allow for efficient field testing across the board.
Decriminalize Small Amount of Possession for All Cannabis
Cannabis causes far less harm, and especially deaths, than other legal consumable substances. We are not saying, “decriminalize it because you can’t quickly test it properly”. However, we are saying that it should be decriminalized anyways. This would subsequently solve law enforcement’s hemp flower problems.
Connect Private Testing Labs with Law Enforcement
If forensic crime labs cannot quantify cannabinoid levels, then the testing services could be outsourced. However, this may not effectively solve testing in the field. This would, however, solve forensic crime labs’ equipment gaps momentarily.
Tax Smokable CBD Hemp Flower Products
Tax stamps have been used to distinguish between illicit and regulated products in the past. This is well known in the American history of tobacco industry. The revenues raised from taxing hemp flower products could appropriate funds to law enforcement. This would effectively solve all of the fiscal issues presented by law enforcement.
There are entrepreneurial solutions to most, if not all of, hemp flower marketplace challenges.
Total Potential THC Debate
Consequentially, the ramifications of this debate appeared to be realized by the market after the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law. Almost every single high CBD hemp flower product on the market exceeds 0.3% total potential THC concentration by dry weight, when factoring THCa into the concentrated concentrated calculations.
Not only because THCa is an acid, isomer, or derivative of hemp, but because testing must be conducted on a “post decarboxylation” basis (page 420 – ironically), or other similarly reliable method.
For instance, imagine a “hemp” concentrate product with 0.2% THC and 80% THCa. This product is intoxicating when ingested via vaporization or dabbing. Regardless of the exact conversion rate, THCa converts to THC when decarboxylated during the ingestion methods mentioned. Ask yourself, should this product be classified under the intended definition of hemp, or marijuana? The answer is no, and this must be why the decarboxylation language is in the farm bill and should not be disregarded.
This is a sturdy argument because we can identify a legitimate purpose. The language appears to be there for a reason. We also confirmed this by asking officials with the USDA, whom agreed with the argument. The USDA, and respective state departments of Agriculture, determine whether or not the crop grown may be classified as hemp.
The market will have 12 months from the date by which the USDA promulgate’s rules to adopt these changes. It is unlikely any congressional action will occur to alter the existing language.
The Potential Unintended Consequences of Debating Arbitrary THC Thresholds
There are large businesses watching the hemp flower market. Long story short, there is a market for it, potentially exceeding a billion dollars.
Whenever markets show potential to hit ten or eleven figures, from a capitalists perspective, it’s game time.
Do small businesses and advocates really want paid for politicians, who will likely side with the powers at be, to begin having this debate? The answer is probably not. Research suggest it will not much influence their decision making anyways.
If the topic is discussed among other representatives, opposition lobbyists’ will inform their employers, and the invisible hand will pull invisible strings. Going hog-wild, or creating a ruckus, is exactly how spider’s identify their prey. This may seem a little harsh, but politics is a capitalists’ playground.
The Federal Government’s Hemp Flower Philosophy
The United Stated Federal Government’s responsibility is to make and enforce laws. Importantly, these processes essentially control the United States’ economy.
However, capitalism’s general influence over this process could potentially skew the interests among individual decision makers in said process. Financially assisting individuals obtain or retain political power, skewing public perceptions through strategic partnerships, and skillfully dodging legal obstacles are all guilty acts of capitalism in the United States.
Capitalism’s influence in federal political processes have created a distrust for congress, and government in general. The majority of companies in the hemp industry are small businesses. Studies show, that public opinion does not have a direct effect on legislative results in congress. Members of Congress’s decisions are not influenced by their constituents’ opinion.
All in all, the federal government’s philosophy is typically adopted by the majority’s strongest influencers, i.e. donors or others with fiscal or media/information related leverage. Relative to cannabis, the philosophy is evolving. The evolvement has correlated with an increase in cannabis related clinical research.
Assuming The Future Trajectory
It is safe to assume the driving force behind future philosophical development for cannabis in general will be clinically based. Clinical trials are notorious for breeding corruption. Although we’re moving away from prohibition, it is also safe to assume that regulations will develop favorably towards large corporations.
The USDA’s Philosophy and Authority
The USDA hasn’t specifically stated their hemp flower philosophy, although we can examine their incentives and legal obligations. For instance, some of the USDA’s strategic goals over the next few years pertain to hemp flower indirectly. Examples include promoting of agricultural products, farmed exports, and economic prosperity in the American agricultural sector.
We called and spoke with USDA directors and staff in regards to their hemp philosophy. They’re aware that many potent varieties of hemp do not fit the 2018 Farm Bill definitions. We also asked whether or not THCa was factored into THC. From the USDA, Amie Minor confirmed this was the case. This will be in full effect 12 months from the USDA’s promulgation of rules. The USDA’s authority is to oversee state hemp programs.
Once the crop is out of the field and dried, the USDA’s oversight stops. They do not regulate hemp products, only hemp production.
The FDA’s and DHHS’s Philosophy and Authority
Department of Health and Human Services
Hemp flower is within the scope of responsibilities of the DHHS. The Department of Health and Human Services has an extensive organizational chart. Finding an office or agent within the DHHS, to clearly discuss smokable hemp from a regulatory perspective, is difficult. Their responsibility is to protect the health of Americans, and to provide essential human services. They could be doing a better job at this.
Drug overdoses rise annually according to the CDC. People are being arrested for possessing or transporting hemp, a non-lethal (therapeutic & nutritional) vegetative herb. This is completely contradictory to the Department’s mission. This is likely not going to change overnight. Evidently, interagency and department cooperation is lacking in this area. There is an opportunity to foster a regulatory effort that makes sense to the average American.
The Food and Drug Administration
The FDA also has an extensive organizational chart. Smokable hemp buds fall between the FDA’s binary organizational lines. Landing in this grey area makes one wonder how regulators will address this issue in the future.
According to this blog published by Harvard’s Center of Ethics, we cannot trust the FDA.
Is there anything the public can do about this? The answer is yes. However, it is a separate discussion whether or not these efforts will fruit desired regulations.
There is a risk that the information representatives receive for decision making purposes could be corrupt. Of course, their decision making ability may be corrupted already.
State Governments’ Hemp Flower Philosophy
Similarly to how state’s have the right to govern their own medical and recreational cannabis laws, they have the same rights to govern their own hemp flower laws.
Law Enforcement Beats Advocates to the Punch
2019 was a big year for hemp flower news. States are taking a variety of approaches. North Carolina is debating whether or not to define smokable hemp flowers as marijuana in their state. Indiana and other subsequent states are legislatively banning hemp flower sales. Law enforcement swept South Carolina pulling hemp flower from their shelves.
A lot of these circumstances are stemming from challenges presented by law enforcement.
Other State Issues
However, we believe the conversations should be largely fiscal. Capital is needed to help law enforcement distinguish between legal hemp and illicit marijuana. In the past, excise tax stamps were used to distinguish between legal and illicit tobacco products.
Excise taxes may appropriate solutions for law enforcement’s testing problems. On the other hand, private investment into R&D by companies in this space could provide solutions.
Considering states will largely dictate their own smokable hemp laws, hemp/cannabis advocates may want to add this issue to their agenda.
We want to hear what you think! Please comment on this post or contact us with potential solutions the hemp flower industry desperately needs.