Arlington, VA, January 29, 2020
Today, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) submitted final comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) on the Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program interim final rule (Rule). The Agricultural Improvement of Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) provided the required regulatory framework for the rule which empowers NASDA members and Indian tribes to serve as the primary regulating authorities of hemp production.
“This rule comes after 18-years of work by NASDA to legalize hemp production in the U.S.,” NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn said. “We thank USDA AMS for their extensive outreach and work on developing this rule. We look forward to working with USDA as we learn more about the regulatory improvements that will be needed to ensure that we are developing a regulatory framework that is workable for hemp farmers and state regulators”
NASDA has identified several key areas where the Rule either lacks clarity or fails to provide the flexibility many states will need to meet the federal requirements in a way that best facilitates the development of hemp production.
“We know at least 30 states will have to revise their own laws in order to comply with the requirements of the Rule. Without some flexibility, this could exacerbate competitive differences between the states and hamper growth of the national industry.”
NASDA made the following recommendations to enhance flexibility of the rule:
- Extending the number of days in the testing window to within 15 to 30 days of harvest
- Dropping the requirement for states to use a DEA registered laboratory
- Enhancing flexibility to secure testing in laboratories that have the technical expertise to perform testing on hemp
- Creating a tier-based approach for sampling and testing that would allow for greater flexibility for state regulators while assuring the integrity of hemp programs
- Setting the negligence threshold for THC at 1% and allow for states to develop mitigation plans
- Allow states to work with state law enforcement, instead of DEA, to establish protocol for disposal of non-compliant materials
- Remove Farm Service Agency (FSA) reporting requirements from the rule
- Develop categories within the Rule based on the crop’s use in commerce, research, etc.
- Extended implementation timelines beyond the current October 31, 2020 deadline
- Continue to prioritize additional research