cannabis legalization

LAWRENCE — Before starting his CBD company, Chris Brunin researched the competition, the labs they used, the products they sold.

He checked out ingredient suppliers and organic hemp farmers. He took everyone’s pitches with a heapful of salt.

“The hemp industry is like the Wild West and Wall Street had a baby,” said Brunin. “You have to vet everything and everybody … to make sure you’re not getting messed with or lied to.”

After years of government stalemate, there is finally some forward movement on cannabis legislation in the U.S. Congress. 

The lack of federal cannabis laws has affected a slew of issues from criminal justice to small businesses. The banking problem, in particular, has made it difficult for legitimate, licensed business owners. For years, big banks have refused to work with cannabis businesses because marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug on the Controlled Substances Act, on par with heroin and LSD.

Colorado law enforcement announced in May that they’d seized what amounted to a small forest of marijuana: 80,000 individual plants and two tons of finished cannabis product. 

It was part of a sweeping marijuana bust, just the latest in the state’s crackdown on illegal cannabis. There have been more than 500 felony arrests and almost 100,000 plants seized between 2016 and 2017, according to the latest data from the Rocky Mountain HIDTA Colorado Task Force.

After nearly a century of prohibition, Canada became the first major economy this week to legalize recreational marijuana (though Uruguay was the first in 2013), and it has U.S. companies lining up.

There’s good news for hemp growers across the U.S. who are preparing for harvest. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration removed some cannabidiol, or CBD, from the most restrictive class on Thursday, allowing for the first cannabis-derived pharmaceutical to be sold in U.S. markets.