Mono County considers ban on industrial hemp
To ensure that Mono County industrial hemp growers don’t abuse a loophole in state industrial hemp law Senate Bill 1409 (SB 1409), Nate Reade, Mono County Agricultural Commissioner, implored the Board of Supervisors to pass an emergency ordinance, prohibiting the cultivation of industrial hemp within the county. The board acknowledged Reade’s concern, but decided to delay a decision on a moratorium until a later date.
You can get high using industrial hemp, but you need to consume a lot more of it.
Time for a brain blast. Industrial hemp is cannabis and cannabis is industrial hemp …they come from the same plant: cannabis sativa.
However, Industrial hemp has a THC content that is less than 0.3%. Whereas the popular Pineapple Express strand of commercial cannabis has an average THC content of 13.5%. Industrial hemp is good at producing fiber, seed oil and cannabidiol (CBD) oil. It doesn’t get you high but its other effects are in high demand: supposed pain relief, muscle relaxation, and rapid penile expansion. That last one isn’t true, but it is true that CBD oil has reduced swelling in mice and rats, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in 2012.
CBD oil is everywhere. Mammoth residents can buy it at a local commercial cannabis dispensary, a food stores, smoke shops, and gas stations. There’s even a new line of CBD-laced granola bars.
Mono County doesn’t regulate industrial hemp. It can’t. But it wants to. Especially now that demand for cannabidiol-based derivatives (CBD) has increased. Growers will be able to legally extract CBD oil from industrial hemp on January 1, 2019 when SB 1409 takes effect. SB 1409 classifies CBD as a product of industrial hemp. At the beginning of 2019, industrial hemp will be legal to grow in the state. Industrial hemp can be grown by agricultural research institutions, but not for commercial purposes.
“One of the concerns is that there is language in new and existing state regulations [SB 1409] that allows for the establishment of agricultural research institutions to grow without any kind of permitting,” Reade told The Sheet.
SB 1409 carries on the exemption for agricultural research institutions from registration as growers or seed breeders. The exemption allows growers to avoid THC testing. A grower could register as an agricultural research institution, grow industrial hemp with THC levels higher than 0.3%, turning the hemp into viable commercial cannabis or produce CBD for commercial use under quasi-research reasoning.
According to Reade there have been no cases of growers in Mono County abusing the loophole. He’s also worried about cross-pollination between industrial hemp and commercial cannabis. The county has an interest in this issue because it recently legalized the cultivation of commercial cannabis. Cross-pollination could warp THC levels in commercial cannabis.
California defines an agricultural research institution “that maintains land or facilities for agricultural research, including colleges, universities, agricultural research centers, and conservation research centers.” (CA Food and Agricultural Code Division 24, Section 81000).
There is no permit or registration required to become an agricultural research institution. A grower doesn’t have to be affiliated with a major university or other research institution. Anyone could claim that they are growing hemp for research, even if research is rubbing CBD oil on different parts of one’s arm and recording whether it tingles more on the underside of the wrist than the bicep.
Reade doesn’t have a clue as to why the state left the agricultural research institution loophole in the language of SB1409. Intention aside, the legislation inhibits the county’s ability to regulate industrial hemp, which jeopardizes it’s investment in commercial cannabis.
Even if growers don’t exploit the agricultural research institution loophole to grow commercial cannabis under the guise of industrial hemp, they can avoid registration fees and THC testing.