The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the final rule regulating the production of hemp in the United States. The final rule incorporates modifications to regulations established under the interim final rule (IFR) published in October 2019. The modifications are based on public comments following the publication of the IFR and lessons learned during the 2020 growing season. The final rule is available for viewing in the Federal Register and will be effective on March 22, 2021.
“With the publication of this final rule, USDA brings to a close a full and transparent rule-making process that started with a hemp listening session in March 2019,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “USDA staff have taken the information you have provided through three comment periods and from your experiences over a growing season to develop regulations that meet Congressional intent while providing a fair, consistent, science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers. USDA staff will continue to conduct education and outreach to help industry achieve compliance with the requirements.”
Shawn Hauser, partner and chair of the Hemp and Cannabinoids Department at Vicente Sederberg LLP said, “The transition from prohibition to a legal and regulated system takes time, and USDA’s final rule is a historic step forward for hemp in the U.S. Many are justifiably disappointed by the DEA’s continued (and in some ways expanded) role in the agricultural hemp program, but there were also a number of positive improvements. The expanded harvest window, alternative disposal/remediation authorizations, and increase of the standard of negligence to 1% will be critical to building a successful hemp industry, and they indicate the USDA gave meaningful consideration to stakeholder’s comments. We are undoubtedly making progress, and we will continue to work with regulators and through Congress to perfect the regulatory structure for hemp.”
Key provisions of the final rule include licensing requirements; recordkeeping requirements for maintaining information about the land where hemp is produced; procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp; procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants; compliance provisions; and procedures for handling violations.