Will a Congressional Rebuke Stop the DEA From Treating Hemp Like Pot?


Fox Business Network

During a speech to a law enforcement conference last January, Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, reportedly said the lowest point of her 33-year career with the DEA came when a hemp flag flew over the Capitol last July 4. In Leonhart's mind, that banner, made from the fibers of marijuana's nonpsychoactive cousin, was a flag of surrender in the war on drugs, even though many countries manage to allow hemp cultivation while continuing to ban pot. Like anti-smoking activists who irrationally oppose noncombusting, tobacco-free electronic cigarettes, Leonhart objects to hemp because it superficially resembles a hated symbol. And even though a flag made from hemp looks just like a flag made from cotton, knowing which plant provided the material was enough not just to irritate or anger Leonhart but to depress her more than anything else in three decades of fighting the never-ending, always failing war on drugs.

Given that mind-set, it is not surprising that the DEA has tried to obstruct the hemp cultivation experiments permitted by the farm bill that Congress approved in February, projects that 15 states have authorized so far. Last month Customs and Border Patrol agents, acting under instructions from the DEA, seized 250 pounds of hemp seeds from Italy and China intended for pilot farming projects in Kentucky. The feds backed down only after Kentucky's agriculture commissioner filed a lawsuit. A few weeks later, as Elizabeth Nolan Brown noted, the House of Representatives approved two amendments aimed at stopping such interference by votes of 246 to 162 and 237 to 170, respectively. Last Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar measure by a vote of 22 to 8. Those votes show that, contrary to what Leonhart seems to think, hemp boosters, who include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), are not synonymous with pot enthusiasts (although, to be fair, there is considerable overlap between the two groups).

One of the House amendments, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), bars the DEA and Justice Department from using taxpayer money to "confiscate, seize, or otherwise impede the importation, transfer, or movement, in interstate or intrastate commerce, of seeds intended for the purpose of growing or cultivating industrial hemp…for research purposes in accordance with State law and pursuant to section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014." The other House amendment, introduced by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), is broader, prohibiting the feds from trying to "prevent a State from implementing its own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of industrial hemp." The Senate amendment, inroduced by McConnell and Jeff Merkly (D-Ore.), says "none of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration."

This is not the first time the DEA has been rebuked for flouting the law in its eagerness to disrupt the hemp industry. More than a decade ago the agency tried to ban edible hemp products such as the granola bar that Massie recently ate on The Independents (top right)That bizarre crusade was ultimately blocked by a federal appeals court, which said it had no statutory basis, since the Controlled Substances Act specifically excludes hemp seeds from its definition of marijuana. Evidently the DEA learned nothing from that experience. That Congress, having passed a law authorizing experimental hemp cultivation, must now pass another law telling the DEA to stop interfering with the first one speaks volumes about the agency's lawlessness as well as its commitment to a cultural crusade that even an old fuddy-duddy like Mitch McConnell can't get behind.

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  1. Just curious, in case anyone can answer this – will hemp plants be grown when pot becomes legal? It’s the same fiber whether or not the fruits contain THC, correct?

    1. Imagine the dumbest possible solution to your question.

      That’s the correct answer.

      1. Imagine the dumbest possible solution to your question.

        Jesse’s First Law of Government Policy.

        Dances-with-Trolls addendum: That allows some politically connected person to financially benefit.

      2. The Backstreet Boys is the solution?

        1. You want it that way?

        2. You’ll never make arch-regulator if that’s the dumbest thing you can come up with.

    2. The high THC varieties have all been breed to be pretty short and leafy (to drive flower production.) Actually hemp plants grown for fiber are usually ten to fifteen feet.

      1. There’s some pretty potent sativa varieties out there, though as a general rule you are correct. Those short and flowery varieties were originally bred to maximize seed production.

        1. Ruderalis is the landrace variety, so there are three phenos:

          Indica: Couchlock, narcotic stone
          Sativa: Creative, up high
          Ruderalis: Massive stem growth and very low THC

          Interstingly, I think the autoflower varieties (which flower at a set number of weeks regardless of light cycle) are a combination of Ruderalis and one of the others, to induce flowering at a predetermined number of weeks.

  2. Short answer – No

  3. I am curious just why hemp was banned in the first place. It seems so nonsensical that even the government should have avoided it. This gives me a sneaking suspicion that the ban was instituted for cronyist or protectionist reasons. Anyone know?

    1. Of course it was banned for cronyist reasons. Why else?

    2. That and because enterprising hemp farmers might hide a few pot plants in their fields. It all looks the same. So as a precaution it all must be banned.

    3. In 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed in the United States. It levied a tax on anyone who dealt commercially in cannabis, hemp, or marijuana. The reasons that hemp was also included in this law are disputed?several scholars have claimed that the Act was passed in order to destroy the US hemp industry,[103][104][105] with the primary involvement of businessmen Andrew Mellon, Randolph Hearst, and the Du Pont family.[103][105]

      One claim is that Hearst believed that his extensive timber holdings were threatened by the invention of the decorticator, which he feared would allow hemp to become a very cheap substitute for the paper pulp that was used in the newspaper industry.[103][106] Modern science suggests that this fear would have been unfounded. Improvements of the decorticators in the 1930s, machines that separate the fibers from the hemp stem, could not make hemp fiber a very cheap substitute for fibers from other sources due to the fact that the long strong fibers are only found in the bast, the outer part of the stem. Only about 1/3 of the stem are long and strong fibers.[31][103][107]

      Another claim is that Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury and the wealthiest man in America at that time, had invested heavily in DuPont’s new synthetic fiber, nylon, and believed that the replacement of the traditional resource, hemp, was integral to the new product’s success.[103][108][109][110][111][112][113][114]

      1. It’s everything I’d ever dreamed it was. America, you never let me down.

    4. It was a little bit of everything. Associations with psychoactive marijuana, the fact that it was a slave crop (labor intensive), the lesser need for rope in maritime industries, the use of ground wood pulp in paper production (a by-product of the post-war housing boom) and some cronyism on the part of rich timberland holders.

      Wikipedia cautiously breaks it down.

  4. “…Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, reportedly said the lowest point of her 33-year career with the DEA came when a hemp flag flew over the Capitol last July 4.”

    Innocent children killed in their sleep? No knock raids ending in death, destruction, and tragedy? Non-violent citizens locked in cages?

    Nope. An innocuous hemp flag is what brings this national hero to a low point in her brave service. Fuck this cunt.

    1. As one looks into the education and career of Ms. Leonhart (graduate of an community college with pretensions, barely 2 years as a beat cop before joining the DEA as a Special Agent, and her meteoric rise through the organization, etc. etc… and one wonders how she obviously became so skilled at fellatio. Was it an innate talent, or did it take many years of practice. Is it a science or an art?

      1. I put her cats over/under at 7.

      2. She looks like she has a fair amount of fat reserves. That means she will survive longer than most in the boats.

        1. Scaphism, Yes!

    2. There is a special seat in Hell reserved for Leonhart.

      I hope.

      1. At the very least history will look at her as no better than Himmler or Comstock.

  5. And even though a flag made from hemp looks just like a flag made from cotton, knowing which plant provided the material was enough not just to irritate or anger Leonhart but to depress her more than anything else in three decades of fighting the never-ending, always failing war on drugs.

    Leonhart needs to get high.

  6. Oddly the issue of drugs and drug prohibition were really the last hurdle for me in my ‘conversion,’ and I have trouble even seeing them the way I did when I was a drug warrior. It’s so insanely silly and an incredible waste of resources and lives. Now I’m touting Spooner’s ‘Vices are Not Crimes’ like a born again baptist preacher with the bible.

    1. Kind of the opposite of the “former smoker” (they’re usually the worst scolds) thing.


  7. Not



  8. I, for one, would like to see the regulars on The Independents ingest Maureen Dowd-quantities of hemp candy an hour before the show.

  9. Unless someone can show me otherwise, I’m going to blame Congress for drafting the 1st bill so sloppily as to leave untouched the previous requirement which DEA was enforcing in its direction to Customs.

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