As many know, hemp was a critical crop in Colonial times and some states, including Virginia, actually required farmers to grow it. Hemp was used particularly to make rope, thread, canvas and sailing cloth. Washington’s primary crop actually was hemp. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp as well.
The Mount Vernon farmers intend to use the hemp they grow to give fiber-making demonstrations at the site, which is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union. They bought the site from Washington’s descendants in 1858 for $200,000 and now about a million visitors each year tour the facility. Many do not realize that Mount Vernon is not owned by the Federal government and is not a national park.
Hemp, while derived from the cannabis plant, contains no THC and has no psychoactive effects. In June, the Senate passed a farm bill that included language effectively legalizing industrial hemp. However, the House version of the bill is silent on hemp, and a conference to deal with the differences is being arranged. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a strong supporter of legalizing hemp, which many believe will help sway some skeptical House Republicans to support those provisions.
The US Senate, by an overwhelming 86-11 vote, last week approved the sweeping Farm Bill containing language which fully legalizes industrial hemp. As we know, hemp, which is derived from cannabis plants, is used to make products from rope to clothing and does not contain THC, the psychoactive part of the plant. In colonial days hemp was so crucial that farmers, like George Washington, were legally required to grow it.
Most believe the House will follow suit. Hemp has not been legal on a federal level since federal criminalization of cannabis in the 1930s. Many believe that occurred in part because of fears of hemp competing with powerful timber interests and DuPont’s then new patent on nylon. After the 1930s bill was declared unconstitutional in 1968, the Nixon Administration helped orchestrate passing the Controlled Substances Act. That law, still in force, declared all parts of the cannabis plant as Schedule I drugs, as dangerous as heroin and LSD. A top Nixon aide later admitted, “Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” Constitutional challenges thus far have been unsuccessful.
Legalization of hemp could yield a variety of products that previously could only be produced with imported hemp. These could include food, building materials, paper products and many others. Currently, it it believed that China is the largest producer of hemp, since it is legal to do so in a number of Chinese provinces. They started farming it during the Vietnam War to make more breathable uniforms for their soldiers in the intense heat. This Senate vote is indeed a significant step towards relaxation of federal cannabis regulation.
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued guidance, at Governor Cuomo’s urging, to New York state – chartered banks and credit unions to offer banking services to medical marijuana businesses licensed under the New York State medical marijuana program (Registered Organizations) and to industrial hemp businesses participating in the New York State industrial hemp research program (Research Partners).
The DFS guidance identifies several requirements for banks to consider in providing services to Registered Organizations (ROs), including the following:
customer due diligence in accordance with established principles and procedures;
transaction monitoring in accordance with established principles and procedures;
compliance with New York Compassionate Care Act;
compliance with applicable regulations and requirement of New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH);
Cole Memo guidance and priorities (including, among other things, preventing diversion of marijuana to minors and to other states, and the flow of revenue to criminal enterprises);
FinCEN guidance clarifying Bank Secrecy Act expectations (including, among other things, verifying the business is a licensed RO, reviewing the RO’s application for a license, obtaining information from the NYSDOH on the RO, understanding the ROS’s activities and customers, monitoring public information on the RO, monitoring for red flags based on assessment of revenue, movement of funds, location of ROs, among other indicia); and
Fling Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), such as a Marijuana Limited SAR, Marijuana Priority SAR, or a SAR for Termination, depending on the RO’s compliance with NYS law and regulations and Cole Memo, and the bank’s need to maintain effective anti-money laundering compliance program.
Authored by Robert Prince, Ph.D, https://www.duanemorris.com/attorneys/robertwprince.html
On Thursday April 18, 2018, at 8:00AM-12:30PM EST, an FDA advisory panel will consider whether to recommend or not recommend approval of GW Pharmaceutical’s cannabis-based drug Epidiolex ® for use in treating two rare types of epilepsy in children- Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Epidiolex is an oral formulation of a purified form of cannabidiol (CBD) a component found in cannabis. CBD does not have any psychoactive effects as compared to another component of cannabis tetrahydocannabinol (THC). Epidiolex has less than 0.1 percent of THC.
If approved, Epidiolex would be the first botanical cannabis product approved in the U.S. for any indication. The FDA has approved Marinol® and Syndros® for uses in the U.S. for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients. Both products contain dronabinol, a synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Another FDA approved drug Cesamet® contains nabilone, which is a synthetic drug with a structure similar to THC that is used to treat nausea and vomiting.
The FDA released briefing documents on April 17, 2018, which did not seem to raise any major issues with Epidiolex, resulting in the share price of GW Pharmaceuticals to rise sharply- up 2.27%. The Center for Drug for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) indicates that it plans to provide a free of charge, live webcast of the April 19, 2018 meeting of the Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee. Information regarding the webcast, including the web address for the webcast, will be made available at the following website: http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/default.htm. At the time of writing this note, the FDA has not provided any login information for the webcast.
You may have read a piece by CLR on Duane Morris’ approach to the national cannabis market late last year.
They are running ahead of their competitors and continue to do so.
They are one of the few firms in the Am Law 200 to have taken up the challenge presented by this de-centralized and sometime rather chaotic corner of the American economy.
Seth Goldberg, based in Philadelphia, practices in business and litigation with a particular emphasis in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and Pharma, saw the opportunities in cannabis and hemp early on in the game and has developed a multidisciplinary cannabis practice drawing across a wealth of experience in the firm.
The practice now comprises 48 attorneys, of whom a good 30 or so are partners.
They are taking the sector seriously and here at CLR we’re surprised that more in the top echelons still aren’t doing the same. …
It’s a question we posed to Seth during our hour long conversation and he concurred that he was equally surprised at the lack of cannabis / hemp practice development at the larger firms on the eastern seaboard.
As part of Governor Cuomo’s FY 2019 budget for New York, the Governor intends to not only continue the investment that the state has made into the hemp industry, but for New York to become a leader in the hemp industry.
In 2015, New York launched its Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program after Congress had passed the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka 2014 U.S. Farm Bill), which permits universities and state agriculture departments to grow industrial hemp as part of their state’s agricultural pilot program. In 2017, New York expanded its pilot program to authorize farmers and businesses to grow and research hemp as a research partner in the state’s program. In addition, the Governor made up to $5 million available in grants for research and production, and another $5 million in grants to eligible businesses for capital costs related to processing industrial hemp.
Now the FY 2019 budget provides $650,000 for an industrial hemp processing facility in the greater Binghamton area, and another $2 million for a program to certify and breed seeds, so that New York can start to produce unique seeds. In addition, the state intends to import thousands of pounds of industrial hemp seed to alleviate some of the burdens faced by farmers.
Given that industrial hemp can be used in the manufacture of over 25,000 products, including foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, yarns, paper, construction and insulation materials, fuel and other products, businesses are increasingly capitalizing on the hemp market. With the New York State’s budget support for its industrial hemp program and the state’s population being estimated at 20 million, businesses may be enticed to consider New York in their hemp related business plans.
Although a member of the family of cannabis sativa that includes marijuana, hemp does not contain levels of THC that produce psychoactive effects, so it is regulated differently than marijuana. Whereas growing, processing, distributing and consuming marijuana are still federally prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act, industrial hemp has seen a revival around the U.S. because its growth, processing and distribution for research purposes is permitted under the 2014 Federal Farm Bill.
Importantly, the expansion of Pennsylvania’s industrial hemp program, and the industrial hemp programs in other states that traditionally raised large tobacco crops, may be helpful to local economies that have been impacted by declines in tobacco growth.
There are more than 25,000 products and/or uses derived from industrial hemp. Research under the PA program includes, among other things, planting methods, such as seed variety trials, fiber or seed yields, optimum fertility levels, pest management; harvesting techniques or product marketing options; or conservation, remediation or biofuel.