Progress seen in the final hemp rules of the USDA


In a promising development for hemp growers, the recent change of administration in Washington was immediately preceded by WE Issuance of the final Regulation of the Department of Agriculture for the cultivation of the crop.

Hemp and hemp derivative CBD they were officially legalized under the 2018 Agriculture Bill, but the Department of Agriculture was unable to adapt its regulations to the new federal law for months. Provisional records were issued by USDA in October 2019, opening a period of public comment. This was to officially last 60 days.

But it was only on January 15, 2021 that the USDAAgricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the release of the “final rule for domestic hemp production.” The publication of the standard in Federal Register four days later it made official its establishment.

This is good news especially for Native American farmers on the country’s Indian reserves, who were banned from cultivating hemp under state regulation because of their sole sovereign status and had to wait for the issue. of federal regis.

The welcome news for all hemp growers is that the “negligence threshold” for THC the content of the tested samples has risen from 0.5 to 1.0 per cent. Although the legal limit for THC in hemp remains 0.3%, farmers now have a higher number of errors without incurring punishment if hemp cultivation is “hot”.

The press release on the final rule said:AMS believes that raising the threshold of neglect … will increase farmers’ flexibility as they learn more about how to grow hemp compliant and how it will improve the availability of stable hemp genetics. “

In addition, the window between tests and harvest has been extended from 15 to 30 days.

This was a victory for the farmers and advocates who participated in the public comment process. The press release explicitly acknowledged this contribution: “Several comments suggest that a 0.5% negligence threshold threatens the survival of farmers in an emerging industry. Comments suggest that the lower threshold is a barrier to entry for new farmers. or farmers with no experience in hemp cultivation, who run the risk of high initial capital investments to establish operations.Comments argued that the low threshold favors larger farms … and that the low negligence threshold in the IFR [interim final rule] it would unnecessarily criminalize farmers working with legal agricultural commodities. Raising this threshold to 1.0 percent benefits producers, including small and new farmers, who wanted to grow hemp, but whose crops were tested “hot” despite making reasonable efforts to grow hemp. ”.

The final regulations still restrict the participation in the industry of those who were arrested for cannabis cultivation in the past, which some find an ironic and onerous restriction. State and tribal hemp cultivation plans “shall prohibit any person convicted of a crime related to a controlled substance under state or federal law from producing hemp for ten years after the date of conviction.”

Margin of maneuver for hemp growers

Garrett Bain is president of EcoGen BioSciences in Grand Junction, Colorado, one of the main sources of the CBD isolate and distill found in products available at retail stores across the country. In addition to its own 600 acres cultivated, both greenhouse and outdoor, EcoGen hires other producers who use the genetics supplied by the company, including some in Oregon and California.

Bain is optimistic about new hemp regulations. “Agriculture is a challenging business and farmers have really struggled to maintain compliance from the rule of law,” he tells Project CBD. “It is a wear and tear for farmers who face the deadline to get the harvest approval and have to do it out the window. I think those rules really help with that. “

Bain discusses the particular challenge of growing hemp farmers for the market CBD and other cannabinoids, however, must remain within the limits allowed for a particular cannabinoid – THC.

“Cannabinoids increase as the flower grows and farmers try to get the most out of it CBD or CBG concentration. But at the same time, THC it also increases. We now have a mechanism to market this crop instead of having to potentially destroy it. The 1% threshold allows farmers a little more leeway.

Bain emphasizes that this does not affect the finished product: isolating and distilling has yet to meet 0.3% THC limit. Most isolates have undetectable levels of THC. Bain says EcoGen’s full-spectrum distillate is always 0.2% THC or below.

But this opens up another dilemma, because once retail products have been produced CBD or other cannabinoids, are under the supervision of Food & Drug administration. And the FDA, despite pressure from Congress, has not yet issued regulations for these products.

Bain says, “We need guidance from FDA on how will this be regulated, is it a food or is it an additive? Many potential retailers expect clarity to meet them. Without their regulatory oversight, there is a lot of hesitation, especially about ingestible products. There are tens of thousands of retail doors that do not participate in the hemp derivative CBD market: from grocery stores to pharmacies, through retail and e-commerce ”.

He acknowledges that some in the industry “are bad actors and make false claims, and that doesn’t help our cause. It will be the orientation that will help us to advance this industry ”.

President Biden has it chosen Janet Woodcock, longtime director of the FDA‘s Drug Evaluation Center & Research, as commissioner of the agency, for the time being, on a provisional basis. He meets with some opposition about her perceived diligence failures in the approval of new prescription opiates. In any case, your hands are likely to be full of COVID-19 Pandemic emergency for some time, which does not predict any immediate action on the regulation of cannabinoids.

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