Alibi V.28 No.33 • Aug 15-21, 2019 

Baked Goods

Wacky World of Weed Law

Confusion abounds in post-hemp legalization

Baked Goods logo
Rob M.

On Aug. 1, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) enacted an emergency rule regulating the extraction, manufacturing and transportation of hemp and hemp products. The rule allows those in the hemp industry to move forward with production while the state develops regulations. For now, hemp producers are required to obtain three different licenses: one for storage, one for manufacturing and one for extraction. Each one costs $1,000. The temporary rule will only last for six months.

Hemp was made federally legal at the end of last year when President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law. The Farm Bill is updated every few years and outlines the Department of Agriculture's policies on national farming programs. The most recent version distinguished “hemp” as cannabis that contains less than 0.3 percent THC and removed it from the list of controlled substances.

This is all well and good, but creating different legal statuses for “hemp” and “marijuana” has made all sorts of problems for lawmakers and law enforcement agencies with boots on the ground. That's because “hemp” is still “marijuana.”

In Ohio, state legislators say they've accidentally legalized marijuana temporarily—seemingly because they were unaware of this conundrum. Jason Pappas, Vice President of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, told WBNS in Columbus that his officers are expected to be able to distinguish between marijuana and hemp. “That is not possible for a human being to do,” he said. “That has to be done through crime analysis.” Specifically, the plant matter has to be tested for THC content. If it has less than 0.3 percent, then it's “hemp,” and everything's ok. Otherwise …

The problem is that most, if not all, of Ohio's crime labs test for the presence of THC but not the quantity. Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation crime lab has advised prosecutors to suspend identification of marijuana testing and not to indict “any cannabis-related items.” It said it may take several months before the state will be able to do the proper tests required by the new law. The Columbus City Attorney told reporters his office will not be prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana cases and will also be dropping any pending cases.

Meanwhile, Florida seems to have also accidentally legalized cannabis in the exact same fashion. Jack Campbell, state attorney for Florida's second judicial circuit, said there was no way to prosecute cannabis offenders. “There's literally no state lab in the state of Florida that can do testing and say 'this is hemp,' or 'no, this is marijuana,'” he told WJCT in Jacksonville.

And in Texas, following yet another state hemp legalization bill, prosecutors have been dropping marijuana charges and refusing to pursue new cases because the cost of sending samples to labs with the proper testing equipment is just too expensive.

Does this make Ohio, Florida and Texas the three newest states to join the legalization movement? Well. No, not really. Cannabis remains illegal, and you can be sure those law enforcement agencies are bound to get the right testing equipment as soon as they can. But it does highlight the asinine state of our current cannabis laws.

Judge Opens MMJ Program to Outsiders

Well, it happened. If you'd asked a week ago, I'd have told you that a request to force the New Mexico Department of Health to begin allowing out-of-state applicants into the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program was a publicity stunt by Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez, or at the very least, a longshot attempt at squeezing a higher plant limit out of the agency.

But lo and behold! Last week, state district court Judge Bryan Biedscheid said that a word change in the new medical program expansion bill did, indeed, make it illegal for the DOH to require a New Mexico ID or driver's license from applicants, opening the program to the entire country. It will still be illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, however.

Biedscheid gave the DOH and Medical Cannabis Program until Aug. 19 to respond to the decision. Watch this space for further developments.

Strain Corner

This week we visited Sandia Botanicals (2406 Comanche Rd. NE) for a taste of Orange Apricot OG (THC: 18.35%, CBD: 0.03%—$10/gram). A cross between High Octane OG and Legends Orange Apricot, this strain smells bright and tangy and tastes citrusy, as the name implies, but with sweet notes.

The effects of this indica-dominant hybrid creeped up slowly as the bowl burned. By the end, I felt sluggish and zoned out. My muscles were relaxed and I had trouble finding the motivation to get up off the couch, despite the sudden onset of the munchies. I debated getting up to fetch a bowl of cereal from the kitchen for a few minutes when the album I'd left playing ended. A strange and heavy silence filled the room. I adjusted my seat slightly and the sound reverberated off the walls. I continued to debate with myself over whether cereal was worth the walk to the kitchen. I stared at the quiet speakers.

This strain is recommended for those suffering from fatigue, stress or sleeplessness.

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