On Friday, the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, issued its final hemp rules. Industry participants admit they’re inspired by the developments in initial interim regulations and they expect more changes in the future, especially after the incoming Joe’s administration.
This effort comes two years after hemp’s federal authorization, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that mandated the agriculture department to set up decrees for the industrial hemp measure. After that, USDA unveiled several proposals, gathered public input, and featured hemp in a glut of government projects such as those permitting crop insurance cover.
On Tuesday, the recent final regulation is scheduled for publishing in the State Register and will be implemented on 22nd March.
Ibach Greg, USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under-Secretary, said during a press release that the launch of the final rule brings the agency to a clear rulemaking protocol that commenced with hemp’s hearing in the legislature during March 2019.
Prior versions of USDA’s recommended provisions received mixed responses from the cannabis sector stakeholders. Although most stakeholders applauded the department’s initiative, legislators and businesses criticized the efforts citing that some provisions were too prohibitive for instance THC thresholds and testing requirements.
In response, the department revised the rules temporarily and opened a comment section for extra insight.
The final regulation includes amendments from the entire process; however, it doesn’t feature every element sought by stakeholders. Below are some of the provisions;
- Rather than depending on stringent state testing requirements, the regulation allows performance-based testing
- The duration for necessary hemp testing was increased from two weeks to one month, which firms assert will avert testing backlogs
- Hemp will only be tested in DEA, Drug Enforcement Administration, licensed laboratories; however, this rule’s enforcement has been pushed up to 31st December 2022
- The department requires pre-harvest samples to be obtained from the marijuana flower instead of the entire crop, but samples will have to be collected from between five inches and eight inches from the crop’s stem.