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Farm Bill’s Hemp Growing Guidelines ‘Welcomed’ By Industry

Written by Peter McCusker

The United States hemp industry is finally coming in from the cold with the release of new guidelines on how it will be regulated 

Late last year President Trump signed off the 2018 Farm Bill lighting the touch paper on the growth of the hemp industry. The Associated Press (A.P.) reports Greg Ibach, the United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) undersecretary for farm production and conservation, as saying 500,000 acres has been grown this year, compared to 120,000 in 2018.

But, the industry has still been waiting details on how it will be regulated and the latest announcement is set to give that clarity to state and federal regulators, growers and the rest of the supply chain.

Regulating Hemp Production

In a press release  the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the establishment of the Domestic Hemp Production Program, would create ‘a consistent regulatory framework around hemp production throughout the United States’. A.P. reports that many ‘states have waited for months so they can begin widespread hemp production’.

The rules – effective for a two year ‘trial’ period – establish requirements for licensing, maintaining records on the land where hemp will be grown, testing the levels of THC and the disposal of plants that do not meet requirements.

The U.S.D.A. has also issued guidelines for sampling and testing, which says the testing of plants must be done in a Drug Enforcement Administration-registered laboratory and must be conducted within 15 days of the harvest. 

Plant Heights Under Scrutiny

The concentration of THC must be below 0.3% and ‘plants measuring too high must be destroyed’, it says. At least 47 states have passed laws to establish hemp production programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Exceptions include South Dakota, Idaho and Mississippi.

The Marijuana Business Daily website says the regulations ‘don’t look nearly as restrictive as some feared, with no regulations requiring certified seeds or limiting exports of hemp products’. But, it goes on to say hemp farmers are already complaining the rules set unreasonable thresholds for THC variance and don’t give cultivators an opportunity to challenge lab tests showing their hemp is non-compliant.

Mr Ibach added: “I think the experience that producers have this fall with harvesting their crop, handling their crop, finding buyers for their crop is going to be very instructive as to whether or not we see continued growth in the hemp industry or whether or not producers take a step back.”

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  • “Welcomed” might be a strong word. Many in the cannabis industry are looking forward to hemp regulation of some sort, but there are many issues with the proposed USDA regulations.

About the author

Peter McCusker

Peter McCusker is an experienced news and business editor, who believes it’s time to fully embrace the multiple, proven, medical benefits of the cannabis plant.