The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its final rule on hemp production on January 19, 2021 which will establish a concrete and transparent framework for the market. Most notably, it will remove the current state-by-state model while giving states the right to make adjustments to specific facets of the law. According to High Times, after listening to the many public comments by politicians, consumers, advocates, and hemp owners, the USDA came to the following conclusions that aim to take some of the guesswork out of the hemp industry:
- While hemp products remain capped at .3% THC, producers received an increase in the negligent threshold. Under the new rules, hemp containing more than .3% THC but less than 1% won’t be labeled as negligent, though remediation or disposal is still required.
- Noncompliant hemp used to require its disposal or remediation be conducted by a government official from an agency like the DEA. Under the new rules, producers are allowed several other means, including composting, burial, and burning.
- Hemp must be tested at DEA-registered laboratories, as previous rules state. However, a lack of sites continues to cause producers’ pain, leading the DEA to delay enforcement of this rule until December 31, 2022.
- Samples are now to be collected by authorities 30 days before harvest. Previously rules called for collection 15 days prior to harvest.
- Producers are now allowed to adopt a performance-based sampling approach, which sets an objective for operators to reach. The National Law Review said the rule enables states and tribes “considerable freedom” with their sampling and which part of the plant is used to achieve the stated objective.
- Tribes are granted the right to invoke their jurisdiction and authority on their territory.
While most of the industry seems to support the ruling, some criticized the two-year window allotted in order to reach the decision.
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