So we missed our chance to vote for cannabis legalization last month. I know it will come up again next year, but my legendary optimism has begun to drift off distractedly here and there and engage in unhealthy, self-centered behavior. It's been quoting 18th century syphilitic poets for the last week. It rolls its eyes at everything. I'm getting worried.
After burning through the fastest year anyone can remember, 2018 has gotten off to a broken, dragging start, and even the good-natured cannabis proponents are starting to get antsy. My Buddhist friend—who has something nice to say about everybody (he once told me that President Trump is a “man clearly in a lot of pain”)—called Attorney General Jeff Sessions a “goddamn shit sucker” under his breath the other day while we were talking about it. I've heard worse from others, but that one made me gasp.
It's a bummer. It seems like the entire culture—teased to glassy-eyed anticipation over the last couple of years with the tantalizing promise of real freedom—is beginning to deflate right in front of me. I want to tell my brothers and sisters to stand tall, to perpetuate the momentum that's been gathered so far. But it's hard, dear reader. I'm very tired. And the blunt, cold wall of entropy threatens to blast us to smithereens when we crash into it.
Case in point …
I was in a dispensary (I won't say where) and found out they were selling CBD extracts to customers who aren't patients in the medical cannabis program and was specifically saying it was federally legal to purchase and possess. Holy hell, did that turn me up.
This is absolutely false, and was even cleared up by the Drug Enforcement Agency a couple of years ago, but I've noticed CBD stores popping up all over the place and have overheard numerous professionals in the field repeating incorrect information.
So to clarify: All cannabis extracts are illegal according to the Controlled Substance Act. This includes CBD.
Some people will try to tell you that CBD is legal if it's extracted from “hemp,” which they will remind you has been distinguished from “marijuana” or cannabis by the 2014 Federal Farm Bill as cannabis with less than 0.3 percent THC. In other words, CBD extracted from hemp is different from that extracted from cannabis and is legal. The only problem with that logic: The Controlled Substance Act doesn't include a delineation between cannabis and hemp—and it overrules the hell out of the Farm Bill.
In December 2016, the DEA published a clarification on the matter, stating in plain text that all extracts “derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis” were illegal and that a separate code number was being created to classify them.
Now, according to High Times, the DEA has said that CBD users are “not a priority,” but I was worried more about health food chain and vitamin shop truck drivers—some of which transport CBD to be stocked on store shelves along with other health supplements—getting popped by the feds as they crossed state lines.
But it seemed like users and even these little CBD shops you'll find all over town were mostly safe. Despite openly trading in the contraband, no one was reporting run-ins with DEA stormtroopers, and the announcement started looking like an empty threat.
Until last month, when Circuit Court Judge Royce Taylor of Tennessee signed a court order allowing law enforcement officials to conduct a massive raid on retailers across the state who sold CBD. The effort, dubbed “Operation Candy Crush” managed to close 23 stores and threatened their owners with felony charges.
Luckily, the whole case was dropped because Tennessee law protects CBD extracted from “hemp,” (criminy) and the District Attorney apparently made the decision to go after the stores without realizing that it's impossible to test whether a compound comes from “marijuana” or “hemp” (because they're identical, of course—oh God, I think I'm getting a brain bubble). Since you can't test for it, you have to just take companies at their word.
Which means the story had a happy ending. But what if the thugs kicking in those doors hadn't been county police? What if it had been a federal prosecutor out for blood with the fullness of the law behind them? Things could have ended very differently, and it's probably a good idea to make people aware of the actual legality of CBD.
But on a positive note: The cannabis market in the US is exploding. I still contend that the way to a man's heart is through his wallet, and I feel like every state with an eye on making some dough is sitting up and paying attention to all that sweet cash rolling in on the wave of cannabis sales.
Forbes reports that Nevada made $30 million in revenue derived from the taxation of cannabis during the first 6 months of legalization. Retailers sold more than $195 million worth in that time. And according to Juneau Empire, the state of Alaska made collected than $1 million dollars in cannabis taxes in January.
(Are we really still arguing over this? Egads—brain bubbles everywhere!)