Ordinance passes, but questions regarding cannabis, industrial hemp remain

HERALD PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Vitamin Plaza in Canby carries CBD products.

An amendment to an ordinance regarding sales of industrial hemp products brought up myriad questions at the July 18 Canby City Council meeting. In the end council members voted to amend the ordinance regarding marijuana differences and allowing sales of industrial hemp products including CBD oil.

The question came up because some city businesses already are selling CBD oil, which is manufactured from industrial hemp. Containing about 0.03 THC—the psychotropic part of marijuana—or less, the oil is not considered to cause any psychotropic reaction. Instead it's used as a topical medication.

The question here was whether it would be okay to allow businesses to get licenses if they are planning to sell the oil or any of the other products made from industrial hemp and if there would be problems resulting from giving out those licenses.

Questions from the council abounded. Most came from members trying to figure out if they would be following both state and federal law along with the people's vote banning marijuana dispensaries within the city's limits. The crux of the matter lies in federal law; industrial hemp and its products are not considered psychotropic substances under the 2014 (federal) Farm Bill.

But federal law does consider Cannabis a schedule one drug, although both federal and state laws exempt industrial hemp products.

City Attorney Joe Lindsey, counseled that he wants to be certain the city is following both state and federal laws. But he continued to note the Farm Bill specifically exempts industrial hemp.

People from MRX Extractors, a company located in Canby, offers its customers many products resulting from industrial hemp. Jonah Barber, president, told the Herald there are some 50,000 products developed from hemp. Among these are "pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics, textiles, construction materials, pet foods, bioplastics, paper, recycling, automotive, furniture, beverages and renewable energy among others," he told council members.

"We think industrial hemp crops and its myriad resultant products can provide sales into the billions," Barber said.

His company also wants to support Oregon farmers by providing them with top quality industrial hemp seeds.

"Imported seeds are inferior," Barber said. "There are no safety requirements and use of them equals lost funds for Oregon farmers. Currently two brothers are boosting seed quality Eric and Seth Crawford."

Another speaker, Ross Day, an attorney from Portland, told the council there is no conflict or problem for industrial hemp product sales. Instead the law prohibits exporting industrial hemp products across state lines.

"Joe Lindsey's language addresses all the concerns," Day said.

"Something has to change otherwise business won't be able to sell clothes, birdseed, dogfood and many other products because they contain industrial hemp," said Mallory Gwynn, a coffee shop owner and master gardener in Canby. "Hemp may still be part of the cannabis family, but it has little to no THC. CBD oil is like Ben Gay, vitamins or spices."

Finally, City Manager Rick Robinson noted that the substance is legal from both a state and a federal perspective.

"The city can grant people business licenses, it is then their responsibility to follow the law," Robinson said. "What we are saying if we adopt the amendment is that if industrial hemp is not a violation of state and federal law, then they can get a business license."

Even though the vote to amend was not opposed, it comes up again at the next meeting for a second reading with a voice vote by members.

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