Hemp advocates express concerns over USDA Interim Production Rule

Published: Nov. 13, 2019 at 2:25 PM CST
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From food, to clothing, make-up and construction materials.

Hemp has been used and produced in the U.S for hundreds of years.

Due to federal regulations, the market went dark in the 1950's and according to 'Vote Hemp' President Eric Steenstra, it only recently made a comeback.

“There’s literally thousands of products,” said Steenstra. "I just think there’s a real potential to see this become a real crop again.”

Hemp production became legal, federally, under the 2018 Farm Bill. Congress left it up to the states to choose to outlaw hemp production completely, regulate their own local producers, or to let the USDA call the shots.

Last month, the USDA implemented an interim rule which, for the first time, lays out federal requirements for producers, including licensing, testing, and disposal of plants containing too much THC.

USDA Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach says hemp producers will be required to have their product sampled and tested in a DEA Registered Lab.

If it tests hot, meaning has a THC reading of more than 0.3%, it’s considered marijuana under the law. Then, it must be disposed of by a DEA registered official.

"I think more labs will crop up that are capable of testing for THC for next crop year," said Ibach.

Like many hemp advocates, Steenstra says he is pleased with the USDA’s rule. However, he noted a few growing pains, including testing procedures and the DEA lab mandates that he hopes will be addressed soon.

The USDA is holding 60 day comment period, for industry experts to express their concerns. They plan to draft a revised final rule in a few years.

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