Marijuana Business Magazine February 2020

Marijuana Business Magazine | February 2020 16 S ometimes the most basic advice is the hardest to follow. Floss every day! Save more for retirement! The list goes on. … Politicians are no different. And nei- ther, it seems, is the hemp industry. I’m talking about a basic rule of campaigning known to every political operative. Commonly attributed to late U.S. President Ronald Reagan— though it’s probably even older—is the lesson, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.” This simple lesson is one that even seasoned politicians bungle. They can’t help it. Whenever they lose a campaign, or fail to get a bill passed, they say the same thing. “I didn’t explain my (idea/candidacy/issue) well enough.” It’s never because they were a bad candidate, or because they lost an honest debate of ideas. Instead, they vow to do a better job of explaining to people how their side was best. Here’s the problem with that line of thinking: It’s condescending and off-putting. Instead, losing candidates should consider that maybe voters did understand the issues and still chose the other guy. Or they simply said “thanks but no thanks” to the idea. No one likes to be talked down to. It’s a no-brainer that hemp activists should keep in mind now that the crop is legal. Legalization means that hemp is under the control of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That’s a whole agency made up of agronomists and botanists, many of whom have Ph.D.s. They already know what hemp is. As the hemp industry tries to change USDA policy on how it regu- lates hemp, fearing that the agency’s new rules will drive many out of busi- ness, entrepreneurs would do well to take Reagan’s advice and avoid the trap of, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.” Regulators at the USDA know that hemp and marijuana are the same plant species. The USDA knows that a cannabis seedling doesn’t care if it grows up to be hemp or marijuana and that the 0.3% THC line dividing the two has little scientific basis. But the USDA implements laws; it doesn’t make them. So when the U.S. Congress told the USDA to make it a national priority to make sure legal hemp stays below 0.3% THC, that’s what the agency did. I believe USDA officials when they say they’re trying their best to make this industry successful. But there’s only so much regulators can do. Arguing that the USDA doesn’t know what it is doing isn’t going to help. So, as we anxiously await changes to the USDA interim final rule for hemp production, it’s a good time to change political tactics. I’d like to see hemp entrepreneurs stop explaining and start changing minds about the foolishness of prohibiting all forms of cannabis. Instead of explaining to the USDA that hemp isn’t marijuana, accept that hemp can easily become marijuana—and the fight now is to legalize all of it. It won’t be until the entire cannabis industry comes out of the illicit market that entrepreneurs can stop explaining and start doing business. Kristen Nichols is editor of Hemp Industry Daily. She can be reached at kristen.nichols@ . Teaching or Preaching? Why the hemp industry needs to stop lecturing regulators Hemp Notebook | Kristen Nichols Instead of explaining to the USDA that hemp isn’t marijuana, accept that hemp can easily become marijuana—and the fight now is to legalize all of it.”