By: Adam S. Bloom, Esq. and John E. Morrone, Esq.
On October 29th, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an interim final rule establishing a national regulatory framework for domestic hemp cultivation. The interim rule is intended to facilitate and expand production and sales of domestic hemp and marks a major milestone in the establishment of a nationwide hemp industry.
The interim rule creates baseline requirements for hemp production but allows states and Native American tribes to establish more restrictive plans, subject to USDA approval. If a state does not implement its own plan, the USDA plan will apply. Also, notably, the rule prohibits states and tribes from banning the interstate transport of hemp that has been legally grown under the program.
The interim rule includes requirements regarding collecting and maintaining relevant information on the land used for hemp production; procedures for sampling and testing to ensure the cannabis grown and harvested does not exceed the acceptable hemp THC level (no greater than 0.3% THC concentration level on a dry weight basis); procedures for ensuring effective disposal of plants exceeding the acceptable hemp level; compliance procedures to ensure hemp is being produced in accordance with applicable requirements including conducting annual inspections and procedures for handling violations; and procedures for reporting specific requirements to the USDA.
The USDA also issued guidelines for sampling and testing procedures for hemp. Samples, which have to be collected approximately two weeks prior to a crop’s anticipated harvest date, must be tested at Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-registered laboratories.
There is a 60-day comment period during which interested persons may submit comments on the interim rule. After reviewing and evaluating the comments, USDA will draft and publish a final rule within two years.
Federal and state laws regarding hemp, CBD, and other cannabis-derived products are rapidly evolving and there are many potential pitfalls for operating in these markets without a thorough understanding complex regulatory environment for such products. If you need assistance navigating the regulatory environment for hemp, CBD or other cannabis-derived products, contact Frier Levitt today to speak with an attorney.