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Hemp Regulations Create Compliance Challenges

On October 31, 2019, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled the interim final rule for its U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, and may now pro- ceed with review and approval of state and tribal hemp plans. e release commenced a 60-day public comment period with an effective date of December 31, 2019, and the USDA will publish finalized rules within two years. Although hemp may continue to be cultivated pursuant to authority granted by the 2014 Farm Bill, that authority sunsets on October 31, 2020.

Initial public reaction to the interim regulations has been generally pessimistic. Producers of hemp complain that the testing and compliance requirements are too strict and that if implemented the interim rule may stunt industry growth. In particular, many are concerned with the USDA’s definition of the 0.3% THC limit for legal hemp, restrictive testing methodologies under a new federal testing standard, and a new requirement that all testing labs be DEA certified, which may result in inadequate testing capacity to meet demand.

USDA HEMP PRODUCER LICENSE

USDA will begin accepting applications 30 days after the effective date of its interim rule. It will not accept applications from licensed hemp producers (producers) whose states have already submitted a plan, which thus far includes Arizona, Georgia, Ken- tucky, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennes- see, Texas and Wyoming.

During the first year, applications can be submitted at any time. Afterward, license applications and license renewal applications must be submitted between August 1 and October 31. All applications will require basic contact information and a com- pleted criminal history report for each key participant. Rejected applicants may appeal. Applicants who have been convicted of a felony related to a controlled substance in the past 10 years will not be granted a license. [Read More @ Wilson Elser]

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