New Federal Hemp Rules for Businesses
The USDA issued a new rule just a few days ago regarding the commercial production of hemp country-wide. The rule regulates the new industry and will play an important role in the appearance of U.S. hemp products on the market. Until the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last December, hemp was still a controlled substance. Though it doesn't take the sorely-needed step of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for consumption, the Farm Bill represents real positive change. I think most people here are already familiar with the myriad uses for the cannabis plant, even without the THC.
For Mycotopia's purposes, I don't think we need to dig too deeply into the 161-page document, but here are a few things you might find interesting:
Potency and Lab Testing
The regulation requires that each hemp crop be submitted to a USDA-approved lab for testing, to make sure that there are legal levels of THC present. The legal amount of THC for hemp is 0.3% or lower, which is so low that it's apparently difficult to find genetics for plants that will produce it. While this will be a problem for producers, breeders are going to be able to patent their genes and presumably make a shitload of money. The same thing will presumably happen with full-potency cannabis when federal legalization arrives, so I hope you dedicated breeders are reading up on how to get your own patent!
The testing process involves post-decarboxylation or other processes that convert THCA into THC. USDA wants hemp to be tested not only for THC, but all potential THC in the plant. Any crop with more than the allowed level of THC must be destroyed, because it is a schedule I substance. The producer receives a "negligent violation," a three of which in a five-year period will result in the suspension or total revocation of the grower's license. If the grower is found to have produced such a crop with a more-than-negligent mindset (e.g. reckless or intentional) the USDA can immediately revoke the license and the grower could face criminal charges.
The USDA rule provides for the transportation of hemp across state lines, even if a given state has banned the production of hemp within its borders. The federal government can do this under the doctrine of preemption, which is the idea that the federal law is the "supreme law of the land" and state laws generally can't contradict it. As for the question of whether a state can ban hemp within its borders, that's unresolved. The State of Indiana attempted to ban "smokable hemp," but a federal judge recently granted a preliminary injunction preventing the state from enforcing it, based on the principles of federal preemption. You can read that ruling here. The ruling is temporary and only affects Indiana, but could eventually lead to appeals that have a wider impact.
Public Comment Period
The USDA has opened the new rule for public comment until December 30. This rule only lasts for two years, at which time they'll create a more permanent one. Therefore, this is a good time to try to influence the way things are done going forward. You can submit a comment here.
Edited by Sidestreet, 03 November 2019 - 01:07 PM.