By LeeWEpstein

October 31, 2019

Following the approval of the White House, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the provisional regulations that will apply to hemp cultivation for the next 2 years. Since the passage of the Farm Bill, which approved the legalization of hemp at the beginning of the year, the American hemp industry has been evolving under uncertainty, without federal regulations and guarantees.

Highly anticipated regulations

In response to political and industrial pressure, the USDA promised a regulatory plan by the end of 2020. Also, it had already prepared the ground by accepting, as early as April, the filing of patents on hemp seeds and by recently clarifying the conditions for importing foreign hemp. However, the new document specifies that no export plan is in effect at this time.

On the other hand, it specifies the methods for growing hemp, testing the THC content – which must be less than 0.3% THCA included – and the protocol for eliminating crops that do not comply with federal standards. The regulations also provide for the extension of federal agricultural property insurance to all hemp crops. This insurance is currently only in force for producers operating as part of the hemp experiment provided for in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Tests can only be conducted by laboratories approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Samples must be collected two weeks before the harvest date. Laboratories may allow for a margin of error. Thus, some samples tested at 0.35% may be acceptable. However, if the samples are not in compliance, the cultures must be given to a federal officer for disposal.

A method that Shawn Hauser of the cannabis consulting firm Vicente Sederberg LLP regrets, given the existence of “reasonable options to remedy excess THC and avoid losses”. “These provisions look like relics of prohibition and carry a costly risk for farmers, but they do not surprise anyone. It takes time to move from prohibition to a regulatory model,” he adds.

The future of American hemp

So,the regulations will be officially published in the US Federal Register. This will be followed by a 60-day public discussion period. At the end of which states and indigenous communities will be able to submit their specific regulatory plans to the USDA. Despite the federal framework, variations are to be expected in each state’s program. States that do not propose a specific plan will fall under the federal regime.

In fact,parliamentarians and governors of some states, including Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, Maine, Florida, Oregon, Iowa, and Minnesota, have already indicated that their respective jurisdictions will submit a plan as soon as possible. Most of these countries are already growing hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill and will only have to make adjustments. On the other hand, for many other States, the new regulations provide a legal framework for the creation of an ex-nihilo program.

The production of the American hemp industry has already quadrupled since the passage of the Farm Bill and the publication of these regulations will undoubtedly further boost production.” At the Ministry of Agriculture, we are excited about new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope that the opportunity to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” said Agriculture Minister Sonny Perdue in a press release.

However, the market for consumer products containing CBD derived from hemp still suffers from the lack of regulations. The Food and Drug Administration must provide a legal framework for the production and marketing of these products (food supplements, cosmetics, smokable flowers). According to the former director of the agency, this process could take years. Under pressure, however, the FDA is trying to speed up the process.

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