Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon are working to get hemp removed from a federal list of illegal controlled substances.
A convicted former Milwaukee alderman has opened a new business in Mayfair Mall selling hemp-based products.
“The response has been overwhelming!”
That’s what former Milwaukee Alderman Mike McGee Jr. said of business at his hemp pop-up store, which opened at Mayfair Mall Friday, July 6. He said there has been some controversy but people still need the products.
By Monday, there was a large demand for CBD oil at the kiosk. The store near Starbucks in the mall was initially going to stay open through the week, but due to popularity, it will be extended.
“We are in negotiations for a long-term lease to become a tenant here (at Mayfair),” said McGee Jr.
McGee’s name is not unfamiliar to Milwaukeeans.
McGee was convicted in 2008 on felony charges that included bribery, extortion, attempted extortion and trying to hide a $30,000 transaction. The charges were linked to using his power as alderman over liquor licenses to collect cash, food and cellphones from business owners. Other counts were later dropped, including charges that he plotted to have a man beaten.
414 Hemp, owned by McGee and partner Maya Mays, opened the first area Hemp and CBD (cannabicyclol) oil pop-up store at Mayfair. This is their second store; the first is located inside a BP gas station, 807 W. Atkinson Ave.
The pop-up store offers products, such as hemp-infused cookies, dog treats, lotions, vape pens, fruit snacks and oils. Additionally, there are t-shirts and other merchandise for sale.
Hemp can be used in oils, clothing, rope, and soaps. McGee explained that hemp has some medical benefits, such as helping patients manage anxiety, the side effects of Parkinson’s Disease and other ailments.
He said hemp can be used through ingesting baked items, smoking or the use of oils.
The decision to go into the hemp business was a natural progression for McGee Jr. as he was already growing food. He became a licensed farmer once hemp became legal.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection’s industrial hemp research pilot program requires both growers and processors to obtain one-time licenses, and register each year that they intend to plant/process industrial hemp, according to its website.
As participants in the research program, growers and processors will be required to report their research plans along with their annual registrations, and to file research reports for each growing season, said the website.
McGee Jr. said he wants the company to be pioneers and create a space of healing for people of Milwaukee.
Is hemp the same as pot?
Hemp and marijuana are from the cannabis family. McGee Jr. described the two like cousins.
“Marijuana is the cousin who stays at home playing NBA Live and hemp is the cousin that lives a productive life and has a job,” said McGee Jr.
Hemp contains a small amount of THC — the substance that gets marijuana users high, but the concentration is much lower in hemp. McGee described it as given a relaxing effect, but without the psychological effects.
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report said based on a state law passed in November, there will be a tight lid on the allowable level of THC — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — to barely traceable levels.
The law allows only industrial hemp of the species Cannabis sativa, with the THC concentration of 0.3 percent or lower, the state agriculture department said in the article.
Wauwatosa Police Capt. Brian Zalewski said hemp is not a restricted controlled substance. Wisconsin 2017 Act 100 made industrial hemp legal. However, Zalewski said E-cigarettes or any product containing nicotine, would require purchasers to be age 18 years and older.
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