Current Rules for US Hemp Production

Written by Lydia Kariuki

It’s been slightly over a year since hemp was legalized at a federal level in the US. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 removed hemp from the list of controlled substances and reclassified it as an agricultural commodity. This implied many positive things, some of which we will look at below.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers regulatory oversight for the production of hemp at a federal level. The USDA issued an interim final rule  (effective from October 2019- October 2021) to oversee hemp programs in the states and Indian tribes. The USDA will issue a final rule when this period lapses.

Rules on Farming Hemp Legally

Hemp can only be grown legally in a state where it has been legalized, that excludes Idaho, New Hampshire and South Dakota. Hemp farmers must be licensed at a federal or state level. Those who have been convicted of a felony related to the misuse of a controlled substance are not eligible to apply for a hemp farming license until a ten year period lapses.

The states’ hemp programs set requirements for hemp production which includes the licensure of growers, seed certification, hemp acreage, testing methods for THC, and how plants that exceed the THC limit should be disposed of.

Legal THC Limit in Hemp

Industrial hemp is defined as hemp cultivars that have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) threshold of 0.3% and below. Unfortunately, the amount of THC in a cultivar may fluctuate based on the location where it is cultivated. As the hemp matures, the THC amount also increases.

The USDA has made the following recommendations for hemp testing:

  • Hemp has to be tested 15 days before it is harvested
  • Testing has to be conducted by a laboratory that has been approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • Results of the test have to be shared with the farmer and the USDA
  • The USDA also gives specific recommendations on sampling hemp before it is tested

Rules on Transportation of Hemp

Hemp that has been grown legally in the US can be transported freely interstate even if it has to pass through a state where hemp has not yet been legalized.

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Lydia Kariuki

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