D.C. Lawmakers To Discuss Hemp in Advance of the 2023 Farm Bill

In Washington, D.C., legislators heard testimony from hemp advocates and industry stakeholders seeking input on the commercial production and processing of the crop.

Last Thursday, the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a hearing entitled, “An Examination of the USDA Hemp Production Program” (Committee on Agriculture).

In her opening statement, Chair Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) stated that while the markets for hemp products such as fiber, grain, and flowers are expanding, “they are still volatile and uncertain.”

“It is essential that USDA continue to support and expand hemp production and the hemp industry in order to support farmers and producers in the ongoing development of this emerging sector,” she said, adding, “As we look toward the next Farm Bill, we can continue to address ongoing issues and provide the necessary resources to our farmers, producers, processors, and agricultural researchers.”

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USDA, FDA Absent

Given their central role in hemp regulation, committee members Jim Baird (R-IN) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA) noted the absence of USDA and FDA representatives.

Kate Greenberg, the commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA), said the 2018 Farm Bill burdens hemp producers with high sampling and testing fees, required background checks, and redundant FSA acreage reporting.

“Hemp has the potential to create new economic opportunities for farmers,” she said. ” Young farmers and ranchers look for ways to boost their bottom line and the environment. The hemp industry can advance CDA’s priorities if we listen to our producers and implement sensible regulations.

The crop’s acreage has decreased since the 2020 growing season, according to Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) should not be involved in testing, and the THC limit for hemp plants should be increased to 1% from 0.3%.

The Marijuana Moment reported the House Appropriations Committee wanted more hemp education. The law recommends the USDA work with the DEA to resolve enforcement actions for hemp over 0.3% THC.

“The new one percent limit should cover Delta-9 THC and every other THC isomer that can intoxicate consumers,” Quarles said.

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Rather than weight percent concentration, consumer items should have a separate legal norm based on quantity, he said.

Adopting a “total THC” criterion over “Delta-9 THC alone” will establish a threshold that better reflects the substance’s intoxication potential. “

Consumer-ready hemp products should be defined. The current law’s definition focuses on the chemical components of the hemp plant when it is harvested from the field or greenhouse; it is not a practical metric for gauging the intoxicating potential of gummies, liquids, vape pens, or “smokables.”

Eric Wang, CEO of Ecofibre and U.S. Hemp Roundtable witness, agreed.

“Malicious actors market items without proper safeguards and deceive consumers,” he warned. Some struggling farms and businesses are promoting intoxicating goods like Delta-8 THC, prompting FDA and CDC warnings that they pose health and safety dangers to customers, especially children.

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CBD Policy Guidelines

In his testimony, Wang stated that “a clear regulatory pathway for CBD would not only alleviate the economic pressure that is driving this product shift, but it would also help ensure that no products contain intoxicating hemp ingredients.”

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The hemp industry is comprised of a variety of national and regional groups with diverse priorities, which vary frequently based on the products they produce and whether hemp is used for its fibre, grain, or flowers.

In a March report, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said shared priorities include easing the USDA’s regulatory standards, which the hemp industry and some state regulators consider unnecessarily stringent and impracticable, and reducing the DEA’s participation in hemp regulation.

The research suggests Congress address industry concerns about FDA regulations for CBD products derived from hemp in the food supply chain, which could threaten public safety.

“It’s unclear if FDA laws and regulations fit within the agriculture bill,” the paper says.

Despite the FDA’s restricted jurisdiction, Commissioner Robert Califf expressed interest in developing a regulatory approach in May.

Califf said, “The current food and drug authorities don’t provide us with what we need to continue forward.” “We must be creative. I’m determined. “

Marcus Grignon, a tribal spokesman and executive director of Hempstead Project Heart, recommended separating industrial hemp from cannabinoid or floral hemp, which can be “visually separated,” and removing testing and background requirements for hemp grain and fibre producers.

Hemp businesses must be allowed to engage more freely with banks and insurance providers because it’s hard to locate a bank that would accept their business accounts. The industry’s anticipation that businesses will soon cooperate with banks and credit card companies has been crushed by federal legalisation.

He noted that the USDA should stamp hemp sent across states to ease interstate commerce difficulties.

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