Legalizing THC in the USA – Moe, Larry and Curly Strike, Again.
Some great reporting on the slow legalization of CBD and THC by Marijuana Moment regarding a memo issued by the USDA, or US Department of Agriculture. You can see read the full Marijuana Moment piece here.
The most interesting part of the USDA’s letter was this section:
Another notable aspect of the memo concerns THC derived from hemp.
“Congress has removed hemp from Schedule I and removed it entirely from the CSA,” USDA wrote. “In other words, hemp is no longer a controlled substance. Also, by amending Schedule I to exclude THC in hemp, Congress has likewise removed THC in hemp from the CSA.”
The 2018 Farm Bill definition of hemp stipulates that a cannabis crop must not contain more than 0.3 percent THC to qualify. THC derived from marijuana remains federally prohibited.
The agriculture bill shifted regulatory responsibility for hemp from the Justice Department to USDA. As such, USDA noted in its legal opinion that “this decontrolling of hemp (and THC in hemp) is self-executing.”
If you are reading that correctly, the USDA is saying the molecule THC is legal if it comes from the male cannabis plant, hemp, but still illegal if it comes from the female cannabis plant, marijuana. How can the same substance and molecule be legal from the male version of the plant, but if it comes from a version of the same plant that just has a higher quantity of the molecule, then the molecule is still illegal.
This reminds us of the Farm Bill of 2018 and how CBD was slowly legalized by President Trump signing of the Farm Bill. If you remember we did this meme.
The Farm Bill legalized hemp, which contains CBD and THC. In order to be considered hemp, the level of THC must be under 0.3% in the plant. President Trump signed the bill, so the executive branch of government signed into law that hemp and CBD from hemp was legal. The FDA and DEA then came out with a statement saying hemp is legal, but CBD is still a schedule 1 drug and you risk the punishments of buying and selling a schedule 1 felony drug if you deal in CBD.
In essence, Trump legalized orange juice and then the DEA and FDA chimed in saying that “Yes, but Vitamin C is still illegal”.
What is the good news in all of this?
The USDA’s letter clearly states that’s that CBD from hemp, and hemp itself is legal. It even starts the discussion about THC legalization by saying THC from hemp has been removed from the Controlled Substance List, and it now legal if it comes from a male cannabis plant known as hemp. If the same molecule comes from a plant that has higher than a 0.3% level of THC, then then that THC molecule is ILLEGAL. Do you follow? THC is legal from one source of low quantity and illegal from a source of higher quantity.
The good news is that the branch of the US government in charge of plants and agriculture is on record clarifying that yes, some forms of THC are legal and not on the CSA list due the language in the 2018 Farm Bill. That is a big first step and it will open the discussion on how low quantities of a molecule are legal and can cross state lines with interstate shipping and such, but higher quantities of the same substance are illegal. The legality is being shifted from the molecule to the quantity of the molecule. So, quantity is now the legal standard on the CSA list? It doesn’t make sense at all, so a little cocaine is fine, but a kilo is a serious offense? You can see the Pandora’s bBx this opens for US government and cannabis/marijuana.
The discussion is now shifted to the source and quantity of THC found in the source, not THC itself. This is akin to saying, “Vitamin C is now legal from oranges that are small like tangerines, but vitamin C from bigger oranges is still illegal.”
If THC legal or illegal?
Depends if the plant you are picking is male or female.