The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its first guidance on how hemp can be lawfully produced under the 2018 Farm Bill.
But with more than a week since the USDA’s interim rule has been revealed in its 161 pages, attorneys and their clients in the hemp industry still have plenty of questions on how the federal government will regulate the crop.
The USDA interim rule on hemp, published Oct. 31 in the Federal Register, provides a framework for states and Native American tribes to set their own regulations for commercial hemp. The rule reinforces that states cannot ban interstate commerce in legal industrial hemp, and it sets federal baselines for licensing, reporting, testing samples and other requirements.
Hemp is defined as cannabis sativa plant containing no more than 0.3% THC, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Hemp is regulated separately from marijuana. In Colorado, it is the purview of the Department of Agriculture whereas marijuana regulation falls within the Department of Revenue.
The USDA hemp rule doesn’t implicate cannabidiol, or CBD products, the market for which has ballooned in the year since the 2018 Farm Bill was enacted. The cannabis industry still awaits guidance on CBD from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The USDA hemp rule, which is effective immediately, is now in its 60-day public comment period.
With Colorado voters approving legal hemp and recreational marijuana in 2012, Colorado has been cultivating hemp commerce and regulations for years. The state has issued more than 2,600 registrations to date for entities to process or sell hemp. The Colorado Department of Agriculture Plant Industry Division is pre-paring to submit a new state hemp plan to the USDA.