Ned Lamont, the governor of Connecticut, has signed the state’s hemp production bill, which revises the state’s hemp regulation to align with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Federal law stipulates that states must prepare and submit a state hemp production plan to the USDA for approval.
Despite the submission of the state hemp production plan to the USDA, the agency has not yet approved Connecticut. However, the USDA law is set to provide hemp producers—including states that have not yet been approved—with new guidelines for 2021.
Lamont signed into law the state’s hemp plan on Monday. The law combines licensing and regulation of hemp growers and producers into one production license. It also prolongs the licensing period for hemp processors and manufacturers to three years from the previous two.
Presently the USDA has approved hemp production plans submitted by more than 20 states, including federally recognized tribes wishing to grow the crop within their borders. However, almost half of the states have passed on growing hemp this year under the new law citing heavily-stringent rules and unclear requirements. The reluctant states have opted to grow hemp under the less strict 2014 regulations until 2021.
The reprieve or grandfather period was supposed to end on October 31, but industry entities and states complained that there wasn’t enough time to comply with the stringent USDA guidelines. The groups lobbied for an extension from the federal government. In response, Congress directed the USDA to extend the oversight period until 2021, provided the states had a pre-existing plan.
The extension is meant to give farmers a cushion and enough time to comply with USDA requirements.
The USDA has not yet responded to the possible impact of the extension for states like Connecticut, which have submitted plans but are pending approval.