On October 29, 2019 the Department of Agriculture announced that it is publishing interim final rules to implement a domestic hemp production program, as mandated by the 2018 farm bill. The new program allows farmers to grow hemp in every state and on reservation land.  Products that contain CBD (cannabidiol) oil, a side product of hemp, will also be more readily available.

  • The rule outlines provisions for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to approve plans submitted by States and Indian Tribes for the domestic production of hemp.
  • The rule also establishes a Federal plan for producers in States or territories of Indian Tribes that do not have their own USDA-approved plan.
  • The program includes provisions for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced, testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements, licensing requirements, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of the new part.
  • The interim rule will be effective upon publication in the Federal Register, which is expected on October 31, 2019

The USDA recognizes that hemp producers may take the necessary steps and precautions to produce hemp yet still produce plants that exceed the acceptable hemp THC level. Farmers wouldn’t be considered in negligent violation unless their hemp crops test above 0.5% THC. Farmers with hemp that tests at 0.3%-0.5% THC would still need to dispose of the plants. The THC variance may give hemp farmers additional comfort they won’t face drug charges for producing hemp that slightly exceeds the acceptable standards.