The Trump administration has announced new interim regulations for hemp production, giving growers some much needed clarity.
In December, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing the production of hemp. Since then, producers have been waiting for the USDA to establish a national regulatory framework that would guide hemp production. The new interim rules will come into effect Thursday and will provide guidelines about hemp testing and licensing requirements.
“At USDA, we are always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a press release.
The new framework will set out procedures for testing the levels of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) in plants. The regulations will require farmers to have samples of their hemp taken by a USDA-approved agent within 15 days of harvest. Those samples will then be tested in labs registered with the DEA to confirm whether the amount of THC in them exceeds .3 percent—the legal line between hemp and marijuana.
Under the framework, licensed hemp growers will also be able to apply for loans, crop insurance and risk management products available to other farmers.
States and Native American tribes will be able to submit their own hemp production plans to the USDA for consideration, but they will not be allowed to ban the interstate transportation of legally grown hemp.
The public will have 60 days to comment on the interim rules, which will sunset after two years (giving the USDA at least a full crop cycle to develop a final set of regulations). For more information about the proposed regulations, click here.