Politics

The White House Approves USDA Hemp Production Rules

White House

In October, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) federal hemp production rules.

The OMB must sign off on new regulations from any federal agency. With this approval, the release of interim production hemp production regulations could come any day.

The USDA’s federal rules are expected to include:

• A review of existing state hemp programs (i.e., criteria for USDA sign-offs).

• THC testing and, more specifically, the point or points at which THC must be tested during hemp production.

• Hemp processing requirements.

• Biomass transportation regulations.

Despite the 2018 Farm Bill’s language that states nothing in the bill authorizes ‘interference with the interstate commerce of hemp,’ law-enforcement officials in states like South Dakota and Idaho, that still consider hemp and hemp-derived CBD to be controlled substances, have prosecuted hemp transport drivers.

The delay in releasing federal rules for regulating the cultivation of hemp are blamed on how complicated attempting to set nationwide THC testing rules are, among other tribulations. The USDA promised those rules would be in place by the 2020 growing season.

At a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on October 17th, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Steve Censky said he expected the administration to issue hemp regulations within a few weeks.

Once released, the USDA regulations will be temporary for the first year, said allowing the states to participate in the 2020 growing season while having the ability to change or amend the regulations without a lengthy process.

The Farm Bill, finalized in December 2018, called for federal authorities to allow states to set their own laws for hemp production, as long as certain criteria are met.

While the USDA is in charge of agricultural regulations, it is unclear how the production of hemp or CBD products will be regulated. If the cultivator is licensed, will a CBD product manufacturer also need to obtain a permit to operate? Will the FDA be overseeing CBD products through the supplement market?

States will have to get USDA approval first, a step in the process that won’t happen until the national guidelines are finalized and made public. The USDA has 60 days to approve state hemp production plans.

B. le Grand

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