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USDA Calls for Public Feedback on Hemp Regulations

Public Comments on Hemp

The USDA has released its initial draft of guidelines for hemp regulation, and wants to hear from the public before developing a finalized version. Learn how you can give your two cents on federal hemp production.

As the United States’ billion dollar hemp industry starts to take shape, Americans have a chance to speak up on how the industry should be run.

The federal government last week published its initial draft of guidelines for hemp regulation, and are asking for public comment before finalizing the rules.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) filed a notice with the federal register on Oct. 31, inviting the public to share their thoughts on the establishment of a domestic hemp production program.

“Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this rule and the proposed information collection,” USDA wrote in a public notice.

“All comments submitted in response to this rule will be included in the record and will be made available to the public.”

The USDA’s 43 pages of proposed regulations for hemp production cover a long list of requirements. According to the UDSA, those include:

  • Licensing requirements
  • Maintaining information on the land on which hemp is produced
  • Procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp
  • Procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants
  • Compliance provisions
  • Procedures for handling violations

“The USDA interim rule is an important first step to ending uncertainty for farmers, and I now look forward to reviewing the rule and working with the USDA and FDA to ensure farmers in Oregon and nationwide can fully realize this crop’s economic job-creating potential,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a vocal supporter of hemp, following the release of USDA’s interim hemp rules.

Submit Your Comments on the USDA’s Hemp Rules

Those interested in providing feedback on the hemp regulations provided by the USDA will need to act quickly. The federal agency has opened the comment period for two months and it ends on Dec. 30.

For a comment to be accepted, the commenter must follow the submission rules. Read the USDA’s draft hemp rules and then submit your comment, here. Find tips for submitting comments, here.

As of Nov. 4, more than 250 Americans have submitted comments related to the proposed regulations for hemp.

Reintroduction to Hemp

When the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law last December, hemp was distinguished as an agricultural commodity and was removed from the Controlled Substances Act. While hemp is no stranger to America, with the new designation, hemp was made available for the first time since the 1970s for commercial growth and processing.

To be classified as hemp, a cannabis plant must contain no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per dry weight. A cannabis plant that contains more THC than 0.3 percent is considered by the federal government as marijuana, which remains on the Controlled Substances Act list as a schedule I substance.

As interest in hemp products, like hemp-derived CBD, sweeps the country the need for guidelines has become apparent. Hemp is naturally higher in cannabidiol (CBD), one of more than 100 cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant. CBD is used as a supplement and is non-intoxicating, unlike THC which can cause euphoric feelings.

According to reports, in the first year of commercial cultivation, hemp production in the U.S. more than quadrupled, expanding to more than 128,000 acres.

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