Nullification is a funny thing.
We can’t always tell where or when the next domino will fall, but trends matter.
When it comes hemp cultivation, the federal government isn’t having an effect on the states; rather it’s the states having an effect on each other, and in turn influencing the federal government!
Last year’s legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington is the gift that keeps on giving.
Last August, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice essentially backed down in the face of marijuana legalization by popular vote in both states, saying it would not challenge the new state laws. It’s nearly impossible to enforce these types of prohibitions without local and state support, so in an effort to prevent further embarrassment, the feds issued a stand down order for prosecutors in Colorado and Washington. Now it’s not just Coloradans and Washingtonians taking advantage of this turn in events since the feds abandoned ship. Advocates of industrial hemp see the DOJ announcement as an open door for state production of the crop.
Industrial hemp looks like marijuana, but lacks high levels of THC. Still, it falls under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. It technically remains legal to grow in the U.S., but farmers must first obtain a permit from the DEA, a nearly impossible feat. This means farmers can’t take advantage of the economic potential of a crop that has literally thousands of applications from clothing to manufacturing to bio-fuel.
Farmers reportedly started growing hemp in Colorado earlier his year under its new state law, in defiance of the feds. Now the DOJ back-down has apparently accelerated the the domino effect in hemp nullification. Oregon and Kentucky aren’t waiting for the Congress and president to change their minds on their mindless drug war.
“Sounds like we will be having a conversation with the Department of Agriculture and figuring out what the next steps are,” Oregon state senator Floyd Prozanski, author of a 2009 bill legalizing hemp, said.
James Comer also sees an opening. The Kentucky’s commissioner for the Department of Agriculture, is teaming up with US Senator Rand Paul to write a letter of notice to US Attorney General Eric Holder.
“We are going to say, ‘This is our how our legal counsel interprets it. We are going to proceed unless you specifically tell us otherwise,’” Comer said.
Even opponents of nullification want to be on the right side of history. Cannabis is now regulated outside federal “law” in states where 53 percent of Americans live.
So, what’s more likely to happen by 2017? That Washington, D.C. will repeal its own statutes on Thomas Jefferson’s choice crop, hemp? Or that another couple states will experience the domino effect?
Washington very seldom fixes things. But I do see dominoes tumbling.
Work to get the Hemp Freedom Act introduced and passed in your state: