On the Watch: USDA Regulations

The wait may soon be over. Perhaps as soon as this week, the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) is expected to issue its long-awaited regulations, finally implementing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “2018 Farm Bill”). Despite the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill on December 20, 2018, the hemp industry has continued to operate pursuant to the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the “2014 Farm Bill”) until now. Once USDA regulations are implemented, we expect states with established hemp programs to submit state plans for USDA review and approval ahead of the 2020 planting season, and states which have not yet established hemp programs to do so in short order.
            The USDA regulations are expected to discuss a wide variety of issues in treating hemp as an agricultural commodity, including issues important to the hemp industry such as:
  • Sampling and testing protocols (as many states currently vary);
  • The measurement of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol versus “total THC”; and
  • Types of genetics to be used (given the prevalent use of non-certified genetics to date).
Ultimately, we look forward to greater directive guidance and regulatory certainty to come from the release of the USDA regulations, and to then trickle down to the state and local levels. Feel free to connect with HLG’s attorneys concerning anticipated regulatory changes, or once released, to discuss the actual regulations and the impact of those regulations in various states.

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