US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), said the USDA’s restrictive policies on hemp are due to the rules of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Under the USDA’s current interim final rule, farmers must use labs that are registered with the DEA to conduct THC testing. But hemp farmers say that the restrictions, as is, would be nearly possible to adhere to given the costs that would incur.
Last October, the USDA released federal draft hemp rules, which caused quite the uproar in the hemp farming community. After announcing the delay of proposed regulations including the requirement to have THC levels tested at DEA-approved labs earlier this month, the issue remains the topic of debate. The 0.3 THC limit also caused worries for hemp farmers.
Marijuana Moment reports that the USDA leadership is washing their hands concerning the DEA testing requirement. “There’s been some relaxation recently. This interim final rule, we didn’t get it nailed right in the bullseye and we tried to make some corrections there,” he said. “The testing and the limitations had a lot of impact from DEA and the interagency.”
“They were not excited about the crop as a whole anyway. We had some pretty serious constraints,” he added. “We’re trying to address the lab issue, which was a real limitation.”
Hemp was legalized and removed from the list of controlled substances under the 2018 Farm Bill, which shifted power over hemp from the DEA to the USDA. But the rulemaking process regarding industrial hemp plans is still in process.
Meanwhile, the Food & Drug Administration finally sent an update regarding the regulation of hemp-derived CBD, signaling an effort to regulate CBD-infused items as dietary supplements. The USDA will once again open up for comments sometime before the 2020 planting season.