USDA Releases Final Hemp Rules

Two years after the federal government legalized industrial hemp production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized federal regulations for the crop. The final rules, which take effect on March 22, reflect some important concessions made after input from stakeholders.

Marijuana Moment reports:

The final rule doesn’t include everything stakeholders sought, but there were some modifications made throughout the process. Here are some of the most notable provisions:

-Hemp processors will have some additional flexibility when it comes to THC negligence standards that would require disposal of the crop if exceeded. Hemp is defined under federal statute as containing no more than 0.3 percent THC, and now it can reach 1 percent, rather than 0.5 percent, without necessitating eradication.

-USDA maintained a requirement that hemp be tested only at labs certified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but it is delaying enforcement of that rule until December 31, 2022.

-The window for required sampling of hemp plants was extended from 15 to 30 days, which businesses say will prevent backlogs in testing.

-The agency is still requiring pre-harvest samples to come from the cannabis flower rather than the whole plant, but it will allow those samples to be taken from five to eight inches from the stem.

-USDA is still mandating that hemp must be tested for total THC content, rather than delta-9 THC alone as stakeholders requested.

-A temporary revision to the agency’s disposal requirements that has allowed so-called “hot” hemp to be eradicated on-site has been made permanent.

-Instead of relying on strict federal sampling requirements, the rule provides for “performance-based” sampling.


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