Win for hemp producers: USDA backs off requiring hemp testing at only DEA registered labs and certain hemp disposal requirements it made in the Interim Final Rule on the Domestic Hemp Production Program.
Commercial hemp producers got a win yesterday as the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a delay in the enforcement of some requirements from its interim final rule on the Domestic Hemp Production Program until October 31, 2021. The recent interim final rule on hemp production can be found here.
The delay is a win for the hemp industry as it was premised largely on statements, arguments, and information that hemp producers made to the USDA during the comment period on the recent interim final rule. Hemp producers around the country had argued that many of the USDA’s requirements in the final rule on hemp production would overburden the industry and stifle progress, innovation and growth.
On Thursday, the USDA said it would delay the requirement that all hemp crops get testing by a DEA registered lab. The main justification for this delay is the lack of Drug Enforcement Agency registered labs across the country. Testing to see if industrial hemp violates the Farm Bill by achieving THC levels greater than 0.3% was unfeasible given the derth of DEA registered laboratories. Under the guidance, labs that are not DEA registered may still be the testing laboratory for hemp producers until Halloween 2021. The laboratories must still adhere to the requirements in the interim final rule and all labs will have to make arrangements to get compliant with the registration requirements before the end of October 2021.
The USDA also announced it would delay the enforcement of the requirement that producers use a DEA registered reverse distributor or law enforcement to dispose of non-compliant plants. The USDA currently offers information on how to dispose of non-compliant hemp you can find it here. Under this suspension of the rule, the hemp producer should utilize one of the methods in that link (common on-farm practices for disposing of crops) and document the disposal and complete the proper forms.
But beware, the USDA did announce that while these steps may currently be necessary, the policies would no longer be appropriate as the final rule is drafted. The USDA also announced it would be conducting random audits of licensees to verify hemp production compliance with the rule.