Authoritarian opponents of marijuana reform, in the US and abroad, soldier on even at such a late date as May 2020, fighting much-needed liberalization of drug laws in the United States.
Having lost the war of public opinion (68% of American adults now favor the sane position of legalizing cannabis writ large at the national level), anti-cannabis crusaders must turn to legal wrangling over terms.
“Marijuana” vs. “Hemp”
Throughout the early part of the 21st century, the evidence has continually mounted to demonstrate the very real and potent health benefits of cannabis in its various forms.
In the face of such evidence, public opinion began to sway heavily toward full legalization – bad news for the public-private prison industrial complex, the vast army of probation officers and defense attorneys who make a living off the drug war, and the American pharmaceutical empire that bankrolls “anti-marijuana” initiatives from coast to coast.
The harsh reality for the authoritarians who hope to keep marijuana on the black market and non-violent users incarcerated is that their anti-marijuana propaganda of the modern era simply doesn’t work anymore. Average people no longer believe what the DEA tells them because they know DEA and its corporate sponsors constitute a corrupt school-to-prison pipeline reliant on the enforced misery of the everyday marijuana users that it targets for arrest and imprisonment.
As a result of losing the PR battle, prohibitionists now stake their ambitions on winning petty legal victories over terminology.
One such absurdity is the 2018 Farm Bill legally fictitious distinction between “hemp” and “marijuana.” In an effort to keep cannabis products with higher amounts of THC, lawmakers made accommodations to allow for CBD products that contain only certain allowable limits of THC, the compound that causes the “high” in users.
Per the 2018 Farm Bill, any plant material or product made from cannabis is considered “marijuana” legally and therefore remains on the federal government’s Schedule 1 list, alongside methamphetamine in a category of substances that “have no legitimate medical use” and have a supposedly high risk of addiction.
Scientific study after scientific study shows that the judicious use of cannabis to treat a variety of physical and mental health conditions is much safer and lower-risk than opioid narcotics manufactured by the same pharmaceutical companies that campaign against marijuana reform.
The Dispute Over CBD Is Essentially a War Over Classification
In the US, and now in Europe, the next phase of normalization and legalization of cannabis is in the courts as judges parse through murky legal language.
The latest victory that advocates of legalization have won in 2020 transpired in the European Court of Justice. An EU judge ruled that member states, which constitute the majority of countries on the heavily inhabited continent, cannot legally restrict the importation or sale of CBD.
In her ruling, the judge noted accurately that CBD has not ever been demonstrated by any government or private entity to qualify as a “narcotic” – a term regarded by the DEA and others to have a legal definition of “opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic substitutes.”
Marijuana clearly does not meet the conventional definition of “narcotic” as opium, but in the 20th century, the law enforcement apparatus and private profiteers who opposed liberalization in the West grandfathered in every conceivable substance that they hoped to keep illegal to create “narcotic” as an umbrella catch-all term for “illicit substance.”
The EU judge, with her important ruling to allow CBD imports, paved the way for the future opening of European and other markets to hemp commerce. France is a leading producer of hemp-derived products, most notably textiles and paper.