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USDA Releases Federal Draft Hemp Rules

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released federal draft rules for hemp manufacturing, according to an Oct. 29 press release. On Oct. 31, the USDA will post the interim final rule on hemp in the Federal Register.

The USDA posted the Draft of the Final Interim Rule, Guidelines for Sampling, Guidelines for Testing and several other documents related to the hemp rule-making process. The draft rules have stirred up the hemp industry as major changes in testing requirements may be imminent.

“At USDA, we are always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” stated U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We have had teams operating with all hands-on-deck to develop a regulatory framework that meets Congressional intent while seeking to provide a fair, consistent, and science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers who want to participate in this program.”

The USDA is also accepting state regulatory plans for hemp manufacturing. A 60-day public comment period will allow hemp manufacturers to voice their opinions about the details of the rules. 

Many hemp operators have concerns. The USDA clarified, for instance, that officials will also test for THCA levels, which can be decarboxylated and converted to THC. Hemp operators have expressed concern over the mandatory post decarboxylation requirement, as well as sampling rules that may have enormous implications on current hemp practices. There is also a 10-year ban from participation in the hemp industry for individuals with past drug-related felonies.

According to the press release, more information about the implications of the interim final rule are available on the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program page on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.