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.

Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

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