Setting a national THC testing standard is causing a major headache for the USDA.
According to William Richmond, head of the Specialty Crops Program in the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the USDA has been “bombarded with questions” about hemp, and is “working hard to issue the hemp regulations.”
According to Richmond, the agency still plans to have regulatory guidelines in place for the 2020 growing season as promised, but has found coming up with a national, standardized THC testing protocol to be “as complicated as you think it is.”
“Our goal is to provide a consistent, easy-to-follow regulatory framework around hemp production,” he said. And they want to hear feedback from the industry. “Tell us what we got right – and, more important, tell us what we got wrong, because we have the opportunity to fix it.”
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While hemp programs are well off the ground in most other states, South Dakota’s rigid stance on hemp is causing problems for inter-state hemp transport.
The Minnesota Hemp Association spoke out this week when a truck driver delivering legally grown hemp from Colorado to Minnesota was charged in South Dakota with possession of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute.
“What this situation highlights is the serious deficiency of consistent laws around hemp cultivation, transportation, processing, and selling,” said Joe Radinovich, Executive Director of the Minnesota Hemp Association.
“A Minnesota Hemp Association member expected a shipment of legally grown hemp. Instead, their driver was arrested and their hemp was confiscated in a state that isn’t complying with the Farm Bill and allowing hemp to be transported.”
South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem also made news this week for submitting a list of 315 questions to state House and Senate leaders who are taking part in a summer hemp study.
Noem, who vetoed a 2018 bill which would have legalized industrial hemp in the state, said in a press release that she would be “thrilled to lead the charge in introducing a new crop that might bolster markets and support producers during this difficult season.”
The rest of the press release isn’t terribly optimistic, however, centering around the complications to law enforcement that hemp legalization brings.
Noem continues, “It could be reckless to introduce a product that has serious implications on the health and safety of the next generation. I strongly urge the legislature to consider the questions around hemp.”
Whether or not legislators will be able to provide answers satisfactory to Noem remains to be seen.
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Meanwhile in Florida, the saga continues over marijuana prosecutions in the wake of hemp legalization.
In recent weeks, multiple state attorneys have announced that they would delay or halt marijuana prosecutions until adequate THC testing was available. (The amount of THC in a cannabis plant is what distinguishes hemp from marijuana.)
But early this week, US Attorney of Florida’s Northern District Lawrence Keefe, who oversees 25 Florida counties, has stated that his office will take over marijuana prosecution. (He has since clarified that his office is only interested in large-scale and crime-related marijuana operations.)
State Attorney Jack Campbell says that help from the feds is welcome since “the resources they bring to bear are clearly wonderful and broad.”
However, President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Richard Greenberg is concerned that being tried in a federal court could mean stiffer penalties for offenders. “I think it is unfortunate particularly this day and age when there’s a movement toward lessening the penalties for marijuana,” said Greenberg.
In North Carolina this week, a smokable hemp ban is one step closer to being signed into law.
In response to concerns from law enforcement agencies, state legislators in the House have passed the North Carolina Farm Act which would revise the definition of hemp to exclude smokable hemp. The Act has now been passed to the Senate for consideration.
The debate in the House centered around whether or not allowing smokable hemp is “de facto marijuana legalization,” since law enforcement cannot easily distinguish between the two plants.
But the prospect of further regulating the kind of hemp that can be produced and sold in the state is concerning to farmers and businesspeople, who are afraid that they will not be able to compete with states that have less restrictive rules.
According to Brian Bullman, founder of Carolina Hemp Company, “Anything that happens in this state without significant foresight is going to continue to ripple through our economy, our hemp economy,”
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Hemp farmers in Colorado are working to find a use for hemp plants which contain too much THC.
Currently, state law requires farmers to destroy hemp that contains more than 0.3% THC (which changes its legal definition to marijuana). That can mean a major loss for farmers, who often have to compost or till the crop back into the ground.
While changing the legal definition of hemp in the state could lead to complications with interstate transportation, farmers are hoping that the crop could still be used for fiber-based products like paper or building materials.
If you’re planning on taking part in Oregon’s Hood to Coast relay this weekend, be sure to take advantage of a free CBD massage when you cross the finish line. Lazarus Naturals, the first official CBD sponsor of the race, has announced that they’ll be there to welcome race finishers with massage tables and products to sample.