Joy Beckerman has led the charge for hemp legalization through activism for decades. This inspired her to form Hemp Ace International, the business with which she helps guide her clients through the agricultural, regulatory and economic issues surrounding hemp. She was elected President of the Hemp Industry Association in 2017 and currently heads that organization. They were responsible for much of the work to get the hemp legalization passed in the 2018 Farm Bill in December.
Forest for the Trees: a True Terpenes Podcast – Ross Hunsinger & David Heldreth – sat down with Joy for a discussion of all things hemp back in November before the Farm Bill was passed. Please subscribe so you don’t miss out on all the details on hemp, terpenes and more. Read the transcript below:
Ross Hunsinger: 00:25 Welcome to the Forest for the Trees. I’m Ross Hunsinger. This week, David Heldreth and I talk to Joy Beckerman. She’s the president of the Hemp Industry Association, the principal industrial hemp specialist at Hemp Based International, and sits on the board of directors at NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Joy is a longtime advocate, and some might say Warrior for the education and normalization of cannabis and hemp in America, and was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule to visit us at MJBizCon 2018 in Las Vegas to have a conversation about all things cannabis. We dive right in with a look at the nutritional benefits of the plant before taking a deep into cannabis from a perspective most never get to see. Here’s Joy Beckerman from MJBizCon 2018.
Joy Beckerman: 01:07 Just sort of go through the super food that needs a super cape. We hear a lot about super foods but hemp really is tremendous in that it is obviously naturally gluten free but it’s the highest digestible form of protein in the entire planet animal kingdom and I think a lot of folks don’t realize that and why it is the highest digestible form more than meat, more than whey, more than soy is because of a few things. One is, it’s about 65% edestin protein, which is a highly assimilable form of protein. Most proteins that we consume are not edestin protein and they don’t assimilate well in our body. Also, the help seed doesn’t have trypsin inhibitors, which prevent our bodies from absorbing protein. Trypsin inhibitors are present in beef and chicken and turkey and whey and soy and also it has the full spectrum of amino acids, so all of those things help.
Joy Beckerman: 02:03 On top of it, as you touched upon, and as I’m sure you well know, it is that perfect ratio of omegas 3 and 6. Those are essential fatty acids. They are essential because we require them for our body’s functions and our brain functioning and we don’t produce them in our bodies, we have to get them from food. There are actually two long-chain essential fatty acids that are basically impossible to come by in the plant kingdom and those are GLA, which is gamma linolenic acid, and SDA, stearadonic acid. Those are available in hemp.
Joy Beckerman: 02:35 Another thing that I only recently learned, just when you think you know everything there is to know, there is more, the plant just continues to give. It is one of only two seeds and nuts on the planet, the other one pumpkin seed, that leaves an alkaline ash in the bloodstream helping our bodies to create a more balanced pH. Only two seeds or nuts in the whole world do this, it’s the hemp seed and the raw pumpkin seed. Just amazing, it is a plant-based, high form of protein with these essential fatty acids and this alkalinity. It’s the magic food.
Ross Hunsinger: 03:14 Even beyond that, a recent study out of Nigeria showed that the leaf actually exceeded the seed for protein content. They were examining it for use in fish feed, it’s again another species we could be feeding.
Joy Beckerman: 03:24 Totally.
Ross Hunsinger: 03:25 That’s only one paper but I’m sure as this continues, we’ll find more and more information like this. It’s just gonna keep growing, as you said.
Joy Beckerman: 03:32 Keep growing, I love it. The puns never stop.
David Heldreth: 03:36 On that, what are your feelings about broad normalization and wide use of hemp as a nutritional supplement by let’s just say it, large corporations, by the man, which again, I think is the conversation we have all the time in cannabis, pushing normalization forward requires that you get it through different channels and get different people on your side. What’s your perspective on that? Because that’s definitely the new frontier in hemp in general, especially with the Farm Bill coming too.
Joy Beckerman: 04:18 Yeah, I think hemp has a place in every sector, in every country, in every state on the planet. We can’t stop big ag. We can do our part to change the world and to educate toward regenerative agricultural practices in farming, to empower through cooperation. We want all forms of cannabis and of course, particularly industrial hemp to create and inspire cooperative business models. We believe that, we toe that line, that cannabis is here to show us another way of life. To learn to live together, to learn to do business together. There are gonna be people who don’t want to play together. That’s fine. We’ll let evolution unfold the way it’s going to.
Joy Beckerman: 05:06 But in general, we welcome everybody into the hemp space. We want to see hemp in every room, in every home, in every refrigerator, in every cupboard. If that means of course, the big guys opening up their arms to hemp, that’s certainly what it means. We certainly also want the small farmer and the cottage industry, to make this a success. It’s on the backs of the cottage industry that the entire hemp industries were developed, and so we of course, are proponents to continue to protect them and watch special interests as regulation unfolds.
Joy Beckerman: 05:44 If we switch hats now for a moment for marijuana and I use those terms by the way, because hemp and marijuana are both cannabis, and side note, I of course embrace this beautiful, sacred, Spanish word marijuana which there is a movement to sort re-racist the word and I reject the re-racisting of the word for these special interests between 1930-1937 to have used nefariously, will certainly not take away my ability to shout the word marijuana with pride from rooftops. We’re frankly offending our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters who are like, why are the hippies playing with the internet and now all of a sudden our beautiful marijuana is a bad word.
Joy Beckerman: 06:22 In any event, as we look at those special interests, that’s kind of what we see. I lot of folks say, gee, it’s legal. Who needs grass roots activism? It’s legal. How are you relevant NORML or how are you relevant Seattle Hemp Fest, that just had its 27th annual event with a quarter of a million people with voter registration and expungement clinics. The answer is, the marathon is just beginning. Every year is a new legislative session, every year is a new rule making session. If we are not the first line of defense to protect the little guy, the small farmer, the cottage industries, those special interests will come in. We see certain states unfolding with these very limited licenses and the criteria to get a license is you already have to be a bazillionaire and a gigantic landowner. This is not what cannabis is about.
Joy Beckerman: 07:09 The people, and we are in a country where when the people lead, the leaders follow, need to learn to engage. I say if you need a purpose, let cannabis be that purpose. If you need a place to belong, join norml.org and come belong and make your voice heard because we have got to engage in the process to protect from these larger interests. We need a fair playing field for everybody.
David Heldreth: 07:34 That’s always been about good stewardship or at least a large portion of it I feel like in the originators of cannabis and hemp. I think that now more than ever that advocacy is needed.
Joy Beckerman: 07:46 Totally.
David Heldreth: 07:47 It’s good to see people out there. Thank you for your doing your part, for sure.
Joy Beckerman: 07:51 My pleasure, my honor. That plant has got me working.
Ross Hunsinger: 07:56 May I ask simply when you’re speaking about some of these places that have some of these restrictive laws, could you perhaps be mentioning like Florida’s rule with nurseries and things like that or perhaps Washington State with seed importation restrictions on the hemp side, which restricts the farmers unless you have a lot of money to be ready for those types of situations?
Joy Beckerman: 08:17 Yeah, and there are two different conversations when talk about marijuana with the licensing. Florida, horrible. Maryland, oh my god. Ohio would have been a disaster, it’s not that much better now but the very first year would have just been a disaster and that was defeated, thank goodness. When we talk about the hemp side, you know Washington, which I was very instrumental in, with that legislative writing and the regulations and that’s an interesting case study because the attorney general is not very pro hemp in Washington.
Joy Beckerman: 08:48 We like to do things in partnership with state departments of ag and attorneys general and so you get to a place when you’re that engaged in the law making and the rule making drafting process and most folks aren’t, so there’s a lot of complaining that goes after the fact. Folks who didn’t engage, then they have an opinion after the fact as opposed to being a part of that process, so didn’t realize how difficult it was that the state of Washington already had its mind made up that it did not to be able to extract from hemp.
Joy Beckerman: 09:19 Who is going to want grow hemp in a state where you can’t extract and where there is no infrastructure to process any other part of the plant other than the flowering tops and the leaves? We don’t have infrastructure to process that long, strong stalk. While we love that it’s the longest, strongest stalk in the world after it’s harvested and processed, it’s quite a struggle or challenge to harvest and process it. That infrastructure didn’t exist. There is now some seed pressing and de-hulling infrastructure there. But again, the state of Washington decided it didn’t want any extraction, so we had to acquiesce to that. Then you move on to things that you can have influence over.
Joy Beckerman: 10:03 It also is the only state that has a cross pollination barrier. It started out at three miles then a senator a couple of years ago asked to increase that to four miles. We were just glad she didn’t say 10 miles, but it’s ridiculous in that it is the onus on the hemp farmer. The hemp farmer is not grandfathered in. There is nothing fair about this cross pollination law in Washington in that let’s say you’re drained your home equity, your retirement account, and you borrowed money from your aging parents to buy a 100-acre or god forbid a 2,000-acre hemp farm in Washington, and then while your hemp is growing after you’ve made this tremendous investment, a licensed 502 marijuana decided to come in and start his farm within that four miles, you then go to renew your license for the next year as the hemp farmer and they say, “You’re not eligible because now you’ve broken the four mile.” “I didn’t break it, the marijuana guy broke it.” But that’s now how the law written. It a tremendous problem.
Ross Hunsinger: 11:03 It happened to a Washington State University professor and cultivator who grows hemp and was doing a research study. In year one of his study, he did it. In year two, he went to go do it again and he couldn’t renew his license for that exact reason. A marijuana farm had moved in, so that public university land or the land that they were using at that facility couldn’t be used for hemp.
Joy Beckerman: 11:23 Isn’t that something?
Ross Hunsinger: 11:24 It’s a university.
Joy Beckerman: 11:25 I know, the law is the law.
Ross Hunsinger: 11:27 Imagine what’s happening to small farmers.
Joy Beckerman: 11:28 Exactly, and the farmers that come to me and say, I would do anything Joy, but I can’t because I’m within the four miles. I can’t grow on my land. I can’t grow on my existing far. Then, you brought up another thing, which I think is a fascinating conversation that we can expand on that’s certified pedigreed seeds. Having said that, there is tremendous benefit, so you’re aware. We did not fight that decision by the department of ag very much to have only certified seeds, and I’ll tell you why. In agriculture and especially when you’re re-introducing a crop, and especially when you’re trying to pollen travel studies, which the state of Washington was trying to do. It’s by the way, a bankrupt de-funded program right now. I have bills for two years trying to re-fund this program. They have died in committee both years.
Joy Beckerman: 12:18 For certified seeds, you know there are certified seeds for strawberries, for tomatoes. When people say, regulate like tomatoes, there are certified pedigreed seeds for tomatoes and strawberries and roses, too. That’s agriculture. Unfortunately, with states that don’t have certified seed programs and there’s a tremendous benefit to that too. It’s fascinating to watch the introduction of legalization unfold in these different states and how different states are welcoming genetics from across state lines. They’re welcoming in clones, they’re not saying certified seed only. Having said that, a lot of those, unfortunately because they have not pedigreed seeds mean they are unique, distinct, and stable varieties.
Joy Beckerman: 13:03 Most of the hemp that is sown in developed countries such Canada, which is the world’s leader, having regulated hemp since 1998 in bulk hemp food processing, most of the hemp that is grown and sown in the world is contracted for before the seeds are ever put into the ground. It isn’t because the end user manufacturer is willing to take a chance on the unique, distinct, and stable characteristics of that plant. They know exactly what variety it is, it’s a stable breed, and it will have a certain nutritional content, it will have a certain size seed, or perhaps if for fiber even a certain diameter of the stalk. This is what farming under contract basis actually mean.
Joy Beckerman: 13:45 There are hundreds of certified varieties of hemp either for oil seed purpose, fiber purpose, extract purposes, or some combination thereof, and we call those dual crop or tri-crop to the extent you’re in a soil and a climate where you could actually grow and harvest for multiple purposes because of course, fiber will mature faster than seeds and then we have a whole nother issue with if you’re growing for cannabinoids. It’s not a mystery with seeds, with certified pedigreed seeds. This is a very sophisticated … We’re not marijuana in that we have to worry about our intellectual property. These are in 31 developed countries. Certified pedigreed are recognized by AOSCA, which is the international certifying body called the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies and the OECD, which is the Organization for Economic Cooperative Development.
Joy Beckerman: 14:41 What happens when we aren’t using certifying seeds, and believe me, we need to have that experiment and we need to do that because we have frankly, beautiful feral, people call them wild but they’re feral varieties of hemp all across this great nation and we want to breed them back into unique, distinct, and stable varieties that test well below 0.3% THC. The cannabinoids are the most genetically inheritable traits and THC is the wiliest of them all.
David Heldreth: 15:08 But feral does mean that they were once cultivated domestically and they escaped and then they’re not being reintroduced because people are finding them?
Joy Beckerman: 15:17 Exactly, and we think some of our greatest hemp varieties ended up in Wisconsin, which was the last state to grow legal hemp since prohibition and they’re growing it now again but 1954 were those last legal fields. Some of our real finest breeds made their way to Wisconsin. But in these states where we’re not using certified pedigreed seeds, and again, we need to go through this experiment, we need to do that. But unfortunately, these oftentimes, particularly for farmers growing cannabinoids, they are being really exploited by bad actors and by good actors who are well intended but unfortunately don’t know what they’re talking about.
Joy Beckerman: 15:57 They’re selling seeds from anything from $1 to $3 a piece and they’re saying they’re feminized. Meanwhile, people spend tens of thousands of dollars on these feminized seeds and then they’re pulling males all summer long because it wasn’t just female plants and certainly this issue of testing hot, fields unfortunately are being destroyed because they test above 0.3% and this is because they’re being sold genetics are not unique, distinct, and stable. It’s part of the revolution and it’s unfortunately unavoidable.
Joy Beckerman: 16:26 But Washington wanted to avoid all of those problems. They wanted to be able and want to be able to study pollen travel so they can get actual data and combat this hysteria between the marijuana interests and the hemp interests. This hysteria over cross pollination is a problem. After 10,000 years, we’re brothers and sisters. People like to say cousins because they really like to distance hemp from marijuana, but let’s face it, it’s one plant. I can’t wait until one day we don’t have all of this separate everything. I realize that’s part of the process now.
Joy Beckerman: 17:04 Because of these cross pollination concerns, the special interests actually get in and marijuana fights with hemp a bit. A, because of that pollination issue and B, because there is some animosity over hemp farmers and hemp extractors have less rules, so to speak, than marijuana processors for extracting cannabinoids. Why is that? That’s because of the difference in the THC content. Again, I can’t wait for all of it to change because THC is in itself a safe cannabinoid but right now that isn’t how it is perceived.
David Heldreth: 17:41 Back to the seed certification in states allowing crossing state lines, you have issues like where in West Virginia the US attorney is now working with the state suing to close a farm because they imported seeds, which technically is against the state law and so there’s all these issues around, like you said, or people who have entire places where, like you said, I don’t know if you touched on it but you mentioned the feminized seed but the real problem there is that if one is not and you don’t pull the male then entire valleys in Oregon for example have been pollinated. Those types of issues have drastic consequences for not just the farmer who is having the issue but everyone around them.
Joy Beckerman: 18:19 Yes, and we’d like to see distance wise when we say everyone around them. What does around them mean? That’s the data that we’re trying to … In West Virginia it was interesting, those were seeds that crossed state lines and oftentimes, the Department and Justice and the DEA itself does not realize all of bodies of law that affect it. Thank goodness, it was brought to the DOJ’s attention recently that the US Consolidated Appropriations Act, which is our annual budget bills, they didn’t even know this. It’s just amazing they start lawsuits and they’re not even aware of this basic stuff, you guys. The idiocy and the ignorance is just amazing in combination with the stubbornness and the bullying is untenable.
Joy Beckerman: 19:01 But the US consolidated Appropriations Act, and this is where especially if you’re in the marijuana industry, you’re aware of the protections there that says hey, as long as that actor is acting in accordance with state law, the DOJ and the DEA cannot use funds to act against that actor. For hemp, it’s the same thing but it’s in an entirely different section in that it doesn’t just apply to funds to the DOJ and the DEA, it applies to funds for all federal agencies and it says that no funds made available by this act may be used in contravention of section 7606 of the 2013 Agriculture Act, which we know as the Farm Bill, the existing one, not the proposed, the one that will be passed and believe me, it will be passed in the beginning of this year if not before. But it also says or to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale, or use or seeds of such plant within or outside of the state that it is grown. The is the law of the federal land and the DEA is completely ignoring that in this lawsuit.
Joy Beckerman: 20:08 When we are saying, as long as it’s Farm Bill compliant, and these farmers were absolutely acting within the licensed Farm Bill compliant agricultural pilot program through the Department of Agriculture in West Virginia, everything is compliant there. While my heart aches that they’re even having to do deal with it and to the extent these farmers have had to spend money on legal fees, my heart breaks further, and also, may this suit really put them back in their place and reveal their ignorance on this because those farmers are protected by the law of the land, the federal government.
David Heldreth: 20:42 Similarly, with the farms in California right now, there was even a larger one, which is such a mess. Like you said, the DEA just keeps getting involved and then you have local jurisdiction where the authorities locally don’t necessarily … While most of the state gets it, there’s individual counties or even just sheriff’s offices at times that just don’t seem to get it.
Joy Beckerman: 21:00 David, you are 100% right, brother. You have really done your homework. In California, it’s these county commissioners that have been charged with overseeing the programs. In this particular instance with Chris Boucher, Farmtiva, and he is a founder by the way, an original founder of the Hemp Industries Association. Chris had the first USDA research hemp growing site in the United States but he did it in Broward County in 1994 and they destroyed that crop too. This guy is an amazing activist. In that respect, it was a county commissioner who took it upon himself, and by the way, in violation of the practices of that county and of his own volition reached out and reported this to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Joy Beckerman: 21:49 The county commissioners aren’t supposed to work like that all. It goes through a proper channel before the federal government is contacted and this one contacted the DEA of his own volition. There are lots of other county commissioners who have chastised him for that, who want to see the hemp program proceed, so you’re right. We’re fighting it on local, county, state, and federal levels and this confusion, especially as concerns extracts because of the marijuana extract final rule, which had been in a proposed state from 2011 and then was finalized in December 2016, the HIA, which has sued the DEA four times, sued them over the marijuana extract rule and it defines marijuana extract as one or more cannabinoids extracted from the genus cannabis.
Joy Beckerman: 22:41 It doesn’t differentiate above 0.3, it doesn’t differentiate below 0.3, and again, it had been in this proposed state, this rule, from July 2011 until December 2016 and completely ignored this intervening legislation that created a seismic shift in cannabis policy and that was section 7606 of the Farm Bill, which defined industrial hemp for the first time in US history and distinguished from marijuana defining it as any part of the plant cannabis sativa L, and I have to say it again comma and part of such plant, DEA comma whether growing or not that does not contain greater than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. They ignored that definition and they finalized that rule and because of this conflating guidance, and I’m rabbit earring here for the listeners because I’m using that term so sarcastically. The guidance continually issued by the DEA to both federal and state authorities, we have a situation at the federal level where it’s the feds versus the feds.
Joy Beckerman: 23:46 Not only are we now combating local, county, state authorities and law enforcement of every agency, but on the federal level we have the legislative branch fighting with the executive branch, meaning the legislators who draft this law, these federal heroes, which are the Mitch McConnells. You know, I don’t have much in common with him. As the US Hemp Roundtable says, you may have 99 problems Senator Mitch McConnell but hemp ain’t one.
Joy Beckerman: 24:12 Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, Republicans from Kentucky working across the country and the aisle with Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Democrats from Oregon are heroes drafting this legislation. They are the legislative branch. They fight with the executive branch, the DEA, which is implementing their law and their legislative intent in the exact opposite manner than it was intended. Then you have the HIA, the Hemp Industries Association taking it before the judicial branch to work it out. These are the checks and balances that we have in the great system that we do live under here in the United States, it’s just taking advantage of that system.
David Heldreth: 24:54 You mentioned that Hemp Industry Association lawsuit and also the extract rule, and while unfortunately it didn’t quite shake out the way we wanted it to, one takeaway that most people are even aware of is that settlement, which at least defines that the cannabinoids that come from the seed and the stalk are allowed. Almost every time I talk to people, they seem to be very unaware of that. Could you explain that to just give people that would be listening just to know how there is actually even through the DEA a legal opportunity?
Joy Beckerman: 25:16 Yes, and again, your acumen and your insight continues to impress me. The settlement was a continuation of our hemp food case believe it or not. That’s the fourth lawsuit. The third one, and that’s where we were able to, in that settlement, it required the DEA, and the quick background there just so you’re aware and then we’ll get into extract, because that was our food case. It does, that’s the one where it says the mere presence of cannabinoids in a substance does not necessarily render it a controlled substance. As it stands, of course, the stalk, and the seed are not significant sources of cannabinoids but that which adheres to the resin on the surface of the mature cannabis stalk and the surface of the seed of cannabis, that’s a given.
Joy Beckerman: 26:02 In 2001, the DEA put forth some interim and interpretive rules that would have made pressed hemp seed oil and nonviable hemp seeds that are incapable of germination that are meant for human consumption to be schedule I controlled substances. Keep in mind, we had just started to gain a little traction. In 1997, Dr. Brauner started to put hemp seed oil into their formulations. We had Nutiva, Manitoba Harvest starting to get hemp seeds on the shelves of grocery stores, and the DEA was not having that, so they put forth these ridiculous interpretive and interim rules. The HIA again immediately went into action and took them to court in the Ninth Circuit along with these other plaintiffs, one of which was Dr. Brauner’s and just because it’s an interesting side note, Dr. Brauner’s is a DBA. Their corporate name is actually All One God Faith Inc. It was the Hemp Industries Association, All One God Faith Inc., Nutiva, Ruth’s Hemp Foods versus the Drug Enforcement Administration.
David Heldreth: 27:05 Dilute, dilute, okay.
Joy Beckerman: 27:08 Totally, brother. All One God Faith Inc. By the way, Dr. Brauner’s, thank you Dr. Brauner’s, has given over $1 million to the HIA and Vohemp over this last decade. We would not have gotten as far as we have without Dr. Brauner’s.
Joy Beckerman: 27:20 In any event, we sued them. We won twice because they came back. They wanted to come back at us. We had two orders, one in 2003 and one in 2004 and in that order the short end of it is that the Ninth Circuit clearly said, yo guys, the definition of marijuana is really clear here and naturally occurring trace amounts of THC within the exempt parts of the plant, which are the mature stalks and the nonviable seeds, are totally not scheduled substances. Guess what? That press release from 2001 where the DEA says that they are schedule I substances, they never took that press release down. Guess what started to happen?
Joy Beckerman: 28:04 In 2014, the Farm Bill passes, departments of ag, then state legislation passes, then departments of ag are starting to Google because they’re not experts. They’re learning like everybody else, and they’re doing their darndest. Let me tell, you these state departments of ag, they’re really our heroes. They’re starting at ground zero, there are all these complexities around hemp, so they’re Googling. Are hemp seed foods legal? We’ve got to have a market for that. We’ve got to help our farmers. Guess what their number one result would come up? The 2001 press release.
Joy Beckerman: 28:35 Then what happened in 2016, I believe, is that a representative from DEA went on national television and spouted non-facts, spouted that nonviable hemp seeds and hemp seed oil were Schedule I controlled substances. Again, Patrick Goggin, our amazing lawyer, who is now with Hoban Law Group, but who was our lawyer through these initial cases in the early 2000s, went and filed a motion for order to show cause as to why the DEA should not be held in contempt for this court’s prior order. We got a settlement and in that settlement, they finally had to take that damn 2001 press release down. It is down you guys, as of May, and they put forth this directive that you so astutely mentioned, which says the mere presence of cannabinoids in a substance does not necessarily render it a controlled substance.
Joy Beckerman: 29:26 In our marijuana extract case, which was also in the Ninth Circuit, and frankly they were filed a month apart, so it’s easy to confuse them. But there are two separate case numbers and there are two separate issues. One again, dealing with the exempt parts of the plant, one dealing with the arguably exempt parts of the plant. That’s the marijuana extract case. An amazing thing happened, and you probably are aware of this David, that 29 federal legislators including Senators Ran Paul, Republican from Kentucky and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Democrats from Oregon along with 26 Congress men and women filed an amicus brief on our behalf in that case. That’s why when we say this was the legislative intent, I’m not making that up, I’m not blowing smoke. They swore under penalty of perjury in an amicus brief that they filed on our behalf to support our case with the Ninth Circuit, this was our legislative intent.
Joy Beckerman: 30:24 What we haven’t discussed yet is that section 7606 of the Farm Bill under which most of these states are operating, which is called the legitimacy of industrial hemp research, it starts out with the glorious words, notwithstanding the Controlled Substances Act. In that amicus brief, those legislators said, we contemplated conflict with the Controlled Substances Act, that’s why we started it out by saying notwithstanding the Controlled Substances Act and we meant not subject to, so everything that’s happening in these Farm Bill compliant agricultural pilot programs, which by the way agricultural pilot program was the second of the two terms defined in section 7606 and it’s defined as to study the growth cultivation or marketing of industrial hemp and then of course it went on to define industrial hemp. Those are not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
Joy Beckerman: 31:14 That includes cannabinoids, it includes any part of the plant, and these 29 federal legislators in a 30-page, very impassioned, very articulate brief spelled that out for the Ninth Circuit and lambasted the DEA, which they said in their brief is implementing their legislative intent in the exact opposite manner than it was intended, that they are overreaching the authority and that they are abusing that authority. They use the word abuse, they use the word overreach, and they make it very clear.
Joy Beckerman: 31:42 As a result, even though our petition for review of the marijuana extract rule was ultimately denied, when we look at page four of this memorandum that was issued by those justices on April 30 in that matter, it states that the Farm Bill compliant cannabinoids in fact are not subject to the Controlled Substances Act and they repeat right there, the legislators contemplated conflict with the Controlled Substances Act and they preempted it. Therefore, the rule, and I’m quoting now, meaning the marijuana extract rule, does not violate the Act, meaning the Agricultural Act. It’s a backwards but very clear way of saying, if it’s hemp-derived cannabinoids within the four corners of the Farm Bill, your hands are off DEA.
Joy Beckerman: 32:25 It hasn’t been challenged in court through law enforcement in terms of somebody getting wrapped up in law enforcement, and that happens, that’s why I have an expert witness business, which does not make me happy that we are fighting over definitions and people are having to spend over that. But when someone does get caught up in law enforcement, that’s gonna be exhibit of all the other exhibits will be that page four of that memorandum that says if this was Farm Bill compliant, DEA, you do not have authority over it.
David Heldreth: 32:54 It’s also just things with water rights and other things, crop insurance, which are finally gonna be spelled out in the Farm Bill. That way you won’t have these independent people in these different water jurisdictions or the crop insurance people deciding that even though the Farm Bill is passed that it doesn’t quality for an insurance settlement or it doesn’t qualify for you to get water. It’s great to cultivate but in most reasons in this country if you’re gonna be cultivating anything as a farm, you’re getting your water from these irrigation districts.
Joy Beckerman: 33:22 Yes, and in fact here in Nevada, which has an amazing program by the way, and I love working with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the largest licensed farmer this year, Joe Frey of Western State Temp, he got such a letter saying you can’t use the water. He ignored it. He used the water anyway. He’s proud to announce it. I just was on a panel with him at the Urban Expo on Sunday. But he got such a letter. That’s one of the great things about the expansion of the Farm Bill. Since 2005 in the US Congress, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act has been filed every year and ion the US Senate since 2013. A lot of folks think Mitch McConnell just got on board, but that’s not actually the case. He was one of five unknown really, just because people didn’t know about the act, co-sponsors of the very first incarnation of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in the Senate. It was always about a page-and-a-half long in the Senate. It simply, basically defined industrial hemp and removed it from the Controlled Substances Act.
Joy Beckerman: 34:18 This year, for the first time and thank goodness, after watching this unfold, they realized gee, just removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, still apparently due to all of the social engineering over the last multiple decades, still causes a lot of confusion. They expanded from a page-and-a-half to about 15 pages. Originally, this scared me because when bills go from one-and-a-half to 15 pages usually somebody got their mitts into it and trouble is brewing. Not in this case. In this case, they said, you know what, we better do more than just define it and remove it from the Controlled Substances Act. We’re gonna amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, which is where crops have to be defined as legitimate agricultural commodities.
Joy Beckerman: 35:03 They amend that act to define industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. This now allowed all your water rights, all these types of things. They amend the federal Crop Insurance Act to make it very clear, spell it out. Just in case the DEA wants for the next 20 years to continue to issue to confusing guidance, rabbit ears listeners, now we know. Federal crop insurance, you’re good to go. Agricultural Marketing Act, you are an agricultural commodity legit style. It amends the Critical Materials Act, the Access to Research Funds Act and it amends the Controlled Substances Act. Finally, it repeals the prior Farm Bill, the Agricultural Act of 2013, which again, rules out research. But this Farm Bill is saying no, we are going for it, you are going to fully license, fully legalize for commercialization as an agricultural commodity.
Joy Beckerman: 35:54 Two issues there of course, are that the USDA will be overseeing this program so a lot of folks don’t realize that what states even with their existing programs, and many are going to have to pass new legislation, it says that those state departments of ag in conjunction with the chief law enforcement officer of the state and the governor’s office will have to submit their state hemp programs to the USDA for approval. They’ll have 60 days to approve it or send it or send it back for an amendment. They’re not gonna say, you don’t get it. There will be certain rules around that, one that’s an interesting rule and they’re trying to keep the law part of it small because we want to be able to change things in regulation without having to literally make an act of Congress out of having to change the law.
Joy Beckerman: 36:41 One of the points are that they’re gonna require is they say that there must be post decarboxylation testing. Thank goodness they also say or other similarly reliable methods. Here in Nevada for example, they use HPLC, which is high performance liquid chromatography. That would not decarboxylate THCA, the acidic form of THC. When we decarboxylate THCA, it converts it to THC. Those who are growing for extracts who are really pushing up against that 0.3% definition … By the way, for oil, seed, and fiber we can be 0.001%. But you push up against that 0.3% and you decarboxylate, you might go over the 0.3% and your crop is gone. What were you gonna say, David?
David Heldreth: 37:25 I was just gonna say basically, just to explain the testing for some of the people listening that basically just they would force them to actually decarboxylate it before they test when with the HPLC, you can just test and see the acidic version versus the neutral version and combine them, do the math rather than actually doing that. That’s what you’re saying for the mandate of the testing?
Joy Beckerman: 37:43 When you do that in Nevada, FYI, they’re so awesome you guys, they do not count the THC.
David Heldreth: 37:48 They don’t even count it?
Joy Beckerman: 37:49 They do it on purpose.
David Heldreth: 37:52 Oh, okay, I thought it might be that because testing can pick up both.
Joy Beckerman: 37:57 They totally could but they don’t quantify it. Other states do, absolutely. Every state if different but Nevada is friggin’ awesome.
David Heldreth: 38:05 That is.
Joy Beckerman: 38:05 They do HPLC on purpose and their definition for THC concentration doesn’t even mention THCA. It’s amazing. They do not quantify it here. Other states, they absolutely do. We’re hoping that in the law where it says, or other similarly reliable methods, aka HPLC, we hope that they put that in there because they’re open to things other than post decarboxylation testing. The other thing and this was a later amendment, and I’m pretty sure it’s not gonna change and we certainly submitted public comment. We could not remain silent. We were very pleased with this bill. We supported it 100% of the way and we do, but when this amendment came, we could not remain silent, we meaning the HIA and also NORML, and that is that drug felony convictions, anybody who has a drug felony conviction will not be able to participate in the state or federal hemp program.
Joy Beckerman: 38:59 As we know, I’m sure you gentleman are well aware, that the drug war has disproportionally and significantly impacted minorities and people of color. To continue to punish minorities and people of color by saying now you can’t get in on what is the most promising agricultural and industrial revolution that this country and frankly, this planet, has ever known is unfair. At the same time, and there’s no but there, it’s simply unfair, what we think the deal that was struck is that Senator Grassley of the Judiciary Committee, he had also put in an amendment to take away those amazing words that we talked about to expand the definition. He wanted to take away those new additions of the words extracts, derivatives, cannabinoids, compounds, isomers, and salts of isomers.
Joy Beckerman: 39:48 Then at the last minute, because we were at the European Industrial Hemp Association conference in Cologne, Germany during this hearing and we were ignoring the conference and glued to our phones. At the last minute, he withdrew that amendment to reduce the expansion of the definition but kept in this drug felony conviction. We think that deal is probably already sealed and that there was probably a deal made that said, listen Judiciary Committee, if we stick with this amendment, will you leave all the other hemp provisions alone? If I were a betting woman, I would say that’s what happened and that provision is gonna stay.
David Heldreth: 40:25 I think you’re probably right about all that. Something similar to that is there is a lot of paranoia on the other side about the things like … They believe that marijuana or cannabis as you said, or hemp, whichever word you’re using, it’s the same plant, basically is still dangerous. There’s still a lot of people who believe that due to misinformation and so I think that like you said, it’s just kind of appeasing them.
Joy Beckerman: 40:50 Yeah, and that is what it is. Unfortunately, while I would love, and the child in me and the hippie in me would love to go from hysterical prohibition to utopia overnight. That would be so lovely. That isn’t the way it works and that’s what we’re dealing with right now with the unfolding of regulation and frankly, the social re-engineering or the social engineering deconstruction of a very effective campaign to demonize this incredibly valuable plant. They didn’t just take away the plant from us, they took away all knowledge of the plant, so it is a massive educational endeavor.
David Heldreth: 41:30 I think it kind of plays back into what Ross what mentioning at the beginning even about the corporations and whereas people that have been in the industry forever or a long in their career as life as using this plant might view it as negative. It’s just that that’s how we’re going to reach these other people is by bringing them in. While it may be painful to see people who were negative against the plant before being involved now, we have to allow them otherwise, what’s their incentive to not be against it in a way.
Joy Beckerman: 41:57 It’s a massive compromise and not everybody understands this tremendous need to compromise as we move forward. Especially when you’re up against the Judiciary Committee, which the bill has to go through that committee. It’s either gonna die there or you’re gonna compromise there.
David Heldreth: 42:13 Speaking of which, in the House, it’s kind of nice to see that the person who has been that roadblock and the reason why only the Senate version of the Farm Bill currently has hemp protections, is now gone, Mr. Pete Sessions.
Joy Beckerman: 42:24 Jeff Sessions and Pete Sessions, that was a double whammy. But yeah, Pete Sessions and horrible for marijuana. As you know, “No marijuana bill is ever gonna get out of my committee.” Bye-bye, Pete. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
Ross Hunsinger: 42:35 Wining in inches, it’s awesome.
Joy Beckerman: 42:38 Yes.
David Heldreth: 42:38 I think it’s back to do with what we were speaking about at the beginning before we were on tape in this conversation is just that I think women have finally woken up in this country and are realizing that they have the power and I think that was a lot of this election.
Joy Beckerman: 42:51 Yeah. He’s definitely handled that. It was women who helped deal with alcohol prohibition. But Trump is serving that purpose of what I call waking the sleeping giants, which is the entire American citizenry. But yeah, if there’s one thing he’s doing it is waking us up and realizing that complaining on Facebook in your pajamas is not being a part of the revolution. That we actually are gonna have to get active, engage in the process outside of our pajamas, outside of social media, and start to heal our own neighborhoods, and really start to not only get involved with rule making and law making and making our voice heard and using our power, which is here for us to use, but to actually start running for these offices and we’re seeing it more and more. It’s pretty awesome when Americans take their power and I’m watching it everywhere. It’s fantastic.
Ross Hunsinger: 43:46 Any consideration on your part of joining the fray?
Joy Beckerman: 43:49 Not for politics. My lord, I don’t know as I’m totally cut out for that. But educating and singing the song of industrial hemp and organizing these supply chains and building the hemp economy, that is my purpose, that is my focus and it’s a very rewarding life after 28 years.
Ross Hunsinger: 44:10 Speaking of the election that just happened-
Joy Beckerman: 44:12 And I mean that internally, by the way. It isn’t financially rewarding yet. It may get there someday, I’ll let you know. If I send you a check, don’t cash it for like a year.
Ross Hunsinger: 44:19 Was there anything else that happened in these elections across the country regarding hemp that you think people should know that may be changing legalities just because of the new laws, what should people be looking for in the coming year for hemp?
Joy Beckerman: 44:31 I know that the Farm Bill is going to pass, again because provisions completely separate from hemp, which are these programs that farmers depend on, which expire every five years, the agricultural acts or farm bills are five-year bills. They have to renew those programs because farmers will start to have some big problems come January or February. It’s really gonna open things up. For most part, this election has been wonderful for hemp. Many, many hemp and marijuana supporters frankly, all forms of cannabis were elected. But having said that, just like when I say, oh cool then my job here is done, my work here is done. Absolutely not. We still as citizens and especially stakeholders in the farming and processing hemp industries are going to have to remain vigilant, remain their first line of defense.
Joy Beckerman: 45:20 One great thing that we’d like to do right now is congratulate those people who have won and make your presence known now. Hi, I’m so-and-so from the Hemp Industries Association or I’m so-and-so from the Nevada Hemp Farm Co-op and we wanted to congratulate you on your win and make myself available to you. This is really making ourselves known, and this is just how it is, writing checks. Writing checks to these legislators to the extent your tax status allows you to do that. That is how politics work, guys. A handwritten letter and a check is about the greatest thing that a legislator on a state level or a federal level can receive as long as of course, they’re within the confines and the bounds of that state in terms of donations, campaign donations as it were.
Ross Hunsinger: 46:06 Clearly, ever shifting cultural landscape that we’re navigating, it’s nice to have a Sherpa out there. Thank you from me to you and everybody else on the scene. Again, thank you for taking the time to sit here and talk with us about everything that you have. It’s been wonderful.
Joy Beckerman: 46:22 Ross and David, thank you for the incredible work that you do. You have got a star here in David. There are some reporters that I love speaking to because I don’t have to over explain everything and you’ve got a guy here with a tremendous foundation. On behalf of the Hemp Industries Association, thank you for you investment in all of these complexities, brother and for getting the word out here, Ross. Awesome, and you do such a great job with True Terpenes, I am such an advocate of True Terpenes.
Ross Hunsinger: 46:50 It’s a fun place to be, what we do for sure.
Joy Beckerman: 46:52 It’s awesome. You work with wonderful people. What a great group and thank you for having me on the show.
Ross Hunsinger: 46:56 My pleasure. Enjoy fabulous Las Vegas.
Joy Beckerman: 46:59 I’m gonna do it.
Ross Hunsinger: 47:00 Awesome. Our thanks to you once again for tuning in. The Forest for the Trees is a production of True Terpenes and the views expressed are solely those of the hosts and guests. Our thanks to Adrian Walter and Phantoms for the intro and outro music. You can find their work on Sound Strife. You can find us here every other Friday with another conversation about the ever changing world of cannabis. From all of us here at True Terpenes and the Forest for the Trees, be well and do great things.