Cannabis Shall Overcome
Yes, 50 years ago, President Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), into law on May 1, 1971. He then took another action and did a Presidential Executive Order (PEO) making Cannabis sativa L a schedule one (1) drug. By statute, only the Attorney General can change the designation of a scheduled drug. The PEO was enacted and done against the Pharmaceutical Committee that President Nixon had set up to study the issue. This action was also taken contrary to the AMA’s advice of not making cannabis a schedule one (1) drug within the CSA. So, this total plant by species name, Cannabis sativa L, was banned as a functional medication and an industrial tool by Federal Law in toto until December 20, 2018.
That is the day, December 20, 2018, the Farm Bill of 2018 was signed into law. This new law made one part of this plant legal again and another part of the same plant still remained illegal. The CSA unscheduled part of this plant and this part of the plantwould now be called “hemp” and not “industrial hemp”. The concentration of THC has to be less than 0.3 % by dry weight for it to be called hemp and any concentration above this 0.3% marker was to be considered illegal. With the Farm Bill signage in 2018, the hemp plant and all its byproducts would no longer be under the control of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)—this is only part of the story. Here comes the FDA and its control over the medicinal use of hemp byproducts.
On that same day, December 20, 2018, for the fourth time in American history, the Cannabis sativa L plant was again segmented into what was to be distinguished as two different types of plants of the same plant species. This division into two separate entities of the same plant was to be determined by a concentration of a chemical compound known as 9-Delta tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is a natural component of the species. If the plant contained less than 0.3% by dry weight, it would be determined as hemp, if it was greater than 0.3% by dry weight, it would be determined as medical cannabis (marijuana). The 0.3 % was a guesstimate that was made by two Canadian researchers and has no scientific reason beside the 0.3% by dry weight was the number they chose.
Oh, yes, THC still reigned as the bad boy. These reins of enforcement and distribution would be continued by the DEA. The DEA would ride herd over this plant from, when the Narcotics Bureau created in 1933, and was codified in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act. The federal criminalization of the plant was a knockout punch that came with the PEO of May 1, 1971. This PEO stopped any and all production of hemp in America. This course of events made us dependent on getting our hemp from other places in the world. In fact, when the Farm Bill of 2018 was signed, we, the U.S., was the only industrialized nation in the world not growing hemp for industrial reasons.Please note that our luxury cars are now 17% hemp fiber.
Cannabis sativa L was in on the upswing because we have a global warming problem and hemp can address and reverse this problem. We in America have a plastic problem. Of all the plastic that has been made only 5% of plastic is reusable or recyclable. We did not care about plastic recycling when China took all of our expended plastics. It is time for the rise of Cannabis sativa L once again as a main industrial tool to combat global warming and to improve sustainability. Hemp and cannabis shall overcome!
Eric I. Mitchell, MD FACPE