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USDA Incorporates Requested Changes Into Final Hemp Rule!

WASHINGTON, JANUARY 15, 2021

Today, the USDA issued the Final Rules on domestic hemp production, which include many of the changes the hemp community has been asking for since late 2019.  The rules show much-anticipated progress on some key issues that the industry has weighed in on, and are testimony to the fact that both lobbying and public commentary work!  

Top changes include:

  1. Raising the criminal negligence threshold from .5% THC to 1%. A very welcome change for farmers and processors in an industry where most crops test “hot” due to the unrealistic and unscientific 0.3% THC legal definition of hemp.

  2. Increase of harvest sampling/testing window from 15 to 30 days. Farmers hotly contested this provision, with good reasons.  Harvests are impossible to predict to a narrow two-week window due to a multitude of factors that policymakers were unaware of until lobbying efforts and commentary clarified them.  

  3. Performance-based sampling. A key goal of AgHS’s advocacy efforts was to secure risk/performance-based sampling.  This is especially helpful for grain and fiber farmers cultivating known varieties that consistently test below the 0.3%THC threshold. 

  4. Expanded options for remediation and disposal. The AMS (Agricultural Marketing Service) will provide further guidelines on the new options, but the alternatives for non-compliant crops are now a lot less draconian.  For example, biomassing (disposing of flower materials and salvaging the remainder of the plant or blending the entire plant into biomass) and re-testing the entire plant or plowing under are now possible, both of which were not options under the IFR.  

While these changes are not perfect and do not address our entire industry wish list (i.e. DEA registered labs still required!), it’s good to remember that change is incremental. These changes are a welcome marker of the progress that we’ve been working towards for the past year and a half.  We will continue to inform our stakeholders of the details of this Final Rule.  Anyone interested in reading the entire 300-page document can find it here.

Hear from AgHS Chief Legislative Strategist Courtney N. Moran, LL.M. on the Final Rules and our goals for 2021 and the 117th Congress on the Think Hempy Thoughts Podcast, with Annie Rouse and Keith Butler!

Now, more than ever, all industry stakeholders should be energized to keep up the efforts to secure the legislative framework we need for our industry to succeed.  Key components still need to change and at the top of the list is the 0.3% THC definition of hemp.  The AgHS Crossroads Campaign is targeting Congress for a much-needed shift in the definition of hemp to 1% THC.  The Campaign advocates for a science-based approach that will help establish a realistic framework for our industry going forward.

Take action now! Let’s use the momentum of these improvements to help put hemp on a level playing field with all other agricultural commodities! Lobbying works, and your support makes it possible.  Become a grassroots donor to the Crossroads Campaign today, and together let’s take hemp across the final threshold from contraband to commodity!

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