Fighting for the Benefits of Marijuana and Hemp with Joy Beckerman and Jose Belen

Hemp Industry Association VS DEA

We start off our show talking with Joy Beckerman over the phone. Joy has been part of the hemp movement for a quarter of a century and considers herself a grassroots activist. She specializes in consulting on everything Cannabis and hemp related. She was elected to the National Board of Directors for NORML, which she considers one of the greatest honors of her life after supporting the organization for over 27 years. She also sits as president of the Hemp Industries Association. She has spent years educating lawmakers and the public on industrial hemp policies. She dives right into the thick of it by explaining what is in the “Farm Bill.” As a result of Section 7606 Agricultural Act of 2014 (“Farm Bill”), we had a “seismic shift in Cannabis policy.” This bill defined two things; first, it defined industrialized hemp for the first time in U.S. history as any part of the plant, Cannabis Sativa L, that is used for industrial purposes with no more than .3% of THC on a dry weight basis. This definition ultimately distinguished hemp from marijuana. It also defined a term called Agricultural Pilot Program as the study of growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp. This is an amendment which says, institutions of higher learning and State Departments of Agriculture can now come up with rules for these agricultural pilot programs, in the states that allow the cultivation of hemp. The hemp industry is creating a market under this research umbrella, which Joy Beckerman states is a very responsible way to reintroduce hemp into the marketplace. Joy is adamant that research is the best way forward in the hemp industry, because with it comes a multitude of federal protections that come with state laws in compliance with this research bill. Two years after this bill was enacted the DEA, USDA, and the FDA came together to issue a joint statement of principles which completely butchered the legislative intent by declaring unlawful restrictions on the hemp plant. So the Hemp Industry Associations came together with lawmakers to write letters to the agencies demanding clarification on this. The DEA was protesting and pushing back on all the progress the hemp industry had made over the last couple of years. Recently, the Hemp Industry Association took the DEA to court over this in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Special interests have pushed back on the hemp industry since the 1930’s. Those in the hemp industry have been working for almost a century attempting to break the stigma surrounding the Cannabis plant. The industry is starting from scratch because not only did the special interests manage to take away the plant, but also all knowledge of it. The people in the hemp industry are coming together from all different states while using this bill to cultivate the plant and also provide insight to the public. Green Roads World was heavily involved in the passing of the Farm Bill here in the state of Florida. They were able to pass the vote with an overwhelming majority and ensured the grant money to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University along with the University of Florida. Arby Barroso had his own dispensary but saw so much more potential with the hemp industry than the marijuana. He says this every week but is continuously right, education is the key.

On the Forefront of Cannabis News

Jose Belen is a combat veteran, he is the founder of Mission Zero, and is currently one out of five plaintiffs suing the United States Department of Justice over marijuana Schedule 1 status. Jose’s story begins with the tragedy that took place on 9/11. Jose grew up as a Manhattan native and didn’t see any other option then enlisting right after high school. He was deployed in the spring of 2003 as a field artillery soldier and part of the initial invasion of Iraq. Jose and his team were tasked with securing Baghdad. Jose tells a story of a man who saw and experienced a lot of trauma on the battlefield that he could not afford to deal with it at the time. We won’t go into too much detail, but know that many people could not possibly process what Jose went through while serving this country. When he came back to the states, he had already assimilated to the war zone mentality taking place halfway across the globe, which made it extremely difficult for Jose to cope with what he had witnessed and participated in overseas. Jose began having mood swings and nightmares which began affecting his everyday life. His wife couldn’t bear the thought of losing him and urged him to seek help at the VA. He was diagnosed with PTSD and prescribed numerous medications to help him heal. Unfortunately, the medications only worsened his ailments. When he went back to the VA, he was greeted with apologies from the doctor who told Jose that the meds prescribed would increase the suicidal thoughts. Jose Belen found solace in Cannabis, but marijuana is still illegal on the federal level and cannot be recommended by the VA. Jose Belen and the other plaintiffs believe that the scheduling of marijuana is unconstitutional. Schedule 1 drugs are not recognized by the federal government to have any medicinal properties, but as we can see that is just simply not true. Jose managed to get his life and family back, and Alexis Bortell can live a reasonably normal life even though she was diagnosed with chronic epilepsy. The judge overseeing this lawsuit seemed to agree with the plaintiffs that marijuana has saved their lives. This is a massive win for the Cannabis movement, and no matter the outcome we believe the movement is gaining momentum and will soon be an available resource for those in need!

It is important to note that everyone reacts differently to medications, and not all pharmaceuticals are bad. Jose Belen is trying to shine a light on the percentage of veterans that may not be getting the correct meds from the VA and are looking for an alternative. He encourages all his military brothers and sisters to share their stories because of every experience matters. One veteran committing suicide is too many, and as a society, we should come together to find a way to heal the very people who have sacrificed everything for our freedom. Jose found out the hard way on how to deal with suicidal tendencies and survived the ordeal by a trial by error. His goal is to stop this cycle and make sure veterans are provided with the resources they need to get through some of the darkest moments. Jose is fighting to provide access to medical marijuana to everyone, not just veterans.

Tune in next Saturday at 10 am for more educational talks, informed guests and giveaways and as always #Educate2Medicate.