Flexibility for Hemp Rule Enforcement for 2020 Crop Year

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that there will be some flexibility in the enforcement of certain aspects of the federal hemp rule.  The requirements for testing and disposal of ‘hot crops’ established under the interim final rule for the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program will not be enforced due to insufficient capacity to address each of those issues.

hemp rule

“We were able to reach an agreement that we are going to be able to provide some relief from the laboratory certification process for this crop year,” USDA Undersecretary Greg Ibach explained during his address to the National Association of State Directors of Agriculture.  “DEA will still expect states to work with their laboratories to try to achieve certification for the 2021 crop year, but for the 2020 crop year they’re not going to require all those labs to go through their DEA certification.”

The requirement for testing labs to be registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) along with the requirements dictating the disposal of non-compliant crops will be delayed until October. 31, 2021, or until the final rule is published, whichever comes first.  Ibach addressed how that will impact states that have already established production rules for hemp.

“it probably depends on how you wrote your regulations that we approved.  If you said, you know, had vague language about it, ‘USDA accepted’ or a ‘DEA accepted’ destruction method then we’re probably easily adaptable there,” Ibach explained.  “If you had in there, ‘a certified DEA lab’ we’re not going to come out and check the box on that and hold you to that since we’ve changed the rules here.  We’re going to be flexible there.”

Ibach also noted that USDA will be opening up a comment period before moving forward with a final hemp rule, “to make sure that we give everybody the opportunity to get the last word in.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West