The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday that it is approving 10 pesticides for use on hemp plants.
While hemp and its derivatives were federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, farmers have still faced certain obstacles as regulatory agencies develop rules for the crop. This latest action comes four months after EPA first announced it would be reviewing applications for pesticide use on the non-intoxicating form of cannabis.
Now farmers will be able to use the products, which are primarily biopesticides, in time for the 2020 planting season.
“With common-sense actions, we are protecting the health of our nation and ensuring that crops such as corn, sorghum, sugar cane and hemp can be protected against a broad spectrum of weeds and pests,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press release. “Under the Trump Administration, the EPA is committed to providing much needed certainty to farmers and ranchers across the country who rely on crop protection tools to ensure a global supply of products, while driving economic growth in agricultural communities across America.”
Growers deserve certainty when it comes to products for their 2020 growing season. That’s why EPA is proud to be approving 10 pesticide product registration requests for use on #hemp https://t.co/XCMm875Eio
— EPA Great Lakes (@EPAGreatLakes) December 19, 2019
Sonny Perdue, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), also celebrated the development.
“EPA’s actions today help support American farmers’ efforts to grow hemp just in time for the first growing season,” he said.
USDA had the steeper task of developing comprehensive regulations for hemp, and it released an interim final rule for the crop last month. Because lawmakers and stakeholders have expressed strong interest in weighing in on the proposals, the agency this week moved to extend the public comment period through January 29, 2020.
EPA said it was approving the pesticide applications in order to “give growers certainty for next spraying season in 2020 and to make timely purchasing decisions for next year.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who championed the hemp legalization provision of the Farm Bill, said “we’re continuing our progress to ensure hemp is treated just like every other legal commodity.”
“By approving several biopesticides for use in hemp cultivation—especially as Kentucky’s hemp farmers prepare for the 2020 growing season—Administrator Wheeler is helping deliver much-needed tools for our farmers,” he said. “Hemp producers across the country are looking to Kentucky for our expertise and leadership with this exciting crop, and I’m committed to helping our farmers, processors and manufacturers take full advantage of hemp’s potential.”
EPA understands the need for certainty in #agriculture products. The recent approval of pesticide product registration requests for use on #hemp gives growers the certainty as the 2020 season approaches! For more information: https://t.co/EtP7FfGN6F
— U.S. EPA (@EPA) December 19, 2019
“Since the Farm Bill was signed into law last year, Kentucky hemp farmers have been asking for safe and effective crop protection agents that meet the demands of the booming hemp industry,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said. “These approvals will allow for the use of 10 different pesticides for the 2020 growing season, which will be of great benefit for Kentucky hemp farmers.”
“We know the value of hemp in Kentucky, and I will continue to fight for and support all efforts to keep this industry moving forward,” he said.
Rep. James Comer (R-KY), a former state agriculture commissioner, said “I applaud the EPA for taking critical steps to move the hemp industry in the right direction.”
“This action will benefit farmers in the next immediate growing season, and give them the tools necessary to make their crop and operation even better than before,” Comer added. “I am pleased to see our regulatory agencies working in a commonsense way to help our hemp growers succeed.”
Because hemp’s “illicit cousin” marijuana remains federally prohibited, EPA has declined to consider pesticide applications for the plant.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Trump Says Marijuana Makes People “Lose IQ Points” In Secret Recording
President Trump could be heard saying that using marijuana makes people “lose IQ points” in a secretly recorded conversation released on Saturday.
“In Colorado they have more accidents,” the president said in the clip captured by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani, who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal that led to the president’s impeachment. “It does cause an IQ problem.”
(Marijuana Moment’s editor provides some content to Forbes via a temporary exclusive publishing license arrangement.)
Photo courtesy of YouTube/White House.
Austin Police Chief Says Marijuana Arrests Will Continue Despite City Council Vote
Chief Brian Manley said he would continue to enforce marijuana laws the day after the city council unanimously approved stopping arrests and tickets for low-level cases.
The day after the Austin City Council approved a resolution to stop arresting or ticketing people for most low-level marijuana possession offenses, the police chief made clear he had no plans to do so.
“[Marijuana] is still illegal, and we will still enforce marijuana law if we come across people smoking in the community,” Chief Brian Manley said during a news conference Friday afternoon.
Though cracking down on those in possession of small amounts of marijuana has never been a priority for the department, he said, police will continue to either issue tickets under the city’s “cite-and-release” policy or arrest people if officers “come across it.”
The difference, according to City Council member and resolution sponsor Greg Casar, is that the council’s move now guarantees those actions will come with no penalty. Tickets will be meaningless pieces of paper and any arrests will result in a quick release with no charges accepted from prosecutors, he told The Texas Tribune after the news conference.
“What has changed since yesterday is that enforcement, almost in virtually all cases, is now handing someone a piece of paper with no penalty or no court date,” Casar said.
The move by the City Council came as a direct result from Texas’ new hemp law which complicated marijuana prosecution across the state. Last summer, when lawmakers legalized hemp, they also changed the definition of marijuana from cannabis to cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant.
Many prosecutors, including those in Austin’s Travis County, now won’t accept pot cases based on look and smell alone, requiring lab testing to determine THC levels before accepting a case. Such testing is not yet available in public crime labs, though some counties and cities have spent money to obtain test results from private labs.
The council’s resolution prohibited using city funds or personnel to conduct such testing in non-felony marijuana cases. It also directed the elimination, to the furthest extent possible, of arrests or citations for cannabis possession. As Manley also noted, the resolution clarifies it can’t technically decriminalize marijuana, since that is state law.
The resolution gave the city manager until May 1 to report back to the council on how police were trained in this new resolution, and Casar said he hopes Manley reviews his policies before then.
Manley said in the news conference that he would continue to review the resolution, as well as police policies.
But, he assured, “a City Council does not have the authority to tell a police department not to enforce a state law.”
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Andrew Yang Wants To Legalize Psychedelic Mushrooms For Military Veterans
Andrew Yang says he wants to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for military veterans to help them combat mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
During a town hall event at an Iowa college on Thursday, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was asked whether he would take initiative and allow veterans to access medical marijuana if elected. Yang replied he “will be so excited to be that commander-in-chief” that he would not only end federal cannabis prohibition but would go one step further by legalizing the psychedelic fungus for veterans as well.
“We need to get marijuana off of the Controlled Substances Act and legalize it at the federal level, make it freely available,” he said. “I say this because I’ve talked to hundreds of veterans and other Americans who benefit from marijuana as a pain relief treatment, and it’s much less deadly than the opiates that many, many people are using for the same conditions.”
“I’ve talked to veterans who’ve also benefited from psilocybin mushrooms,” he added. “They said it was the only thing that actually has helped combat their PTSD. I’m for legalizing psilocybin mushrooms for veterans as well. Pretty much if it’s going to help a veteran, we should make it easier, not harder, for them to get access to it.”
Yang’s drug policy reform platform is unique in that respect. While the majority of Democratic candidates support marijuana legalization, he’s pushed unique proposals such as decriminalizing possession of opioids and making psilocybin mushrooms “more freely available” for therapeutic purposes. The candidate also wants to invest federal funds in safe injection facilities where individuals can use prohibited drugs in a medically supervised environment and receive help getting into treatment.
He hasn’t gone so far as embracing the decriminalization of all drugs, as former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has, however.
That said, Yang did signal that he’s open to legalizing and regulating “certain drugs” beyond cannabis, which he argued would disrupt international drug cartels. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) recently said she backs “legalizing and regulating” currently illegal controlled substances to protect public safety and combat the illicit market.
At the Iowa town hall, Yang went on to say that he’s particularly interested in legalizing marijuana, and he again pledged to “pardon everyone who’s in jail for a non-violent marijuana-related offense because they shouldn’t be in jail for something that’s frankly legal in other parts of the country.”
“And I would pardon them all on April 20, 2021, high-five them on the way out of jail and be like, ‘things got a lot better in the last year,'” he said, referencing the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20.
Photo element courtesy of Gage Skidmore.