While the primary mission of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable is securing legislation to permanently legalize hemp – psst…stay tuned to this space for big developments soon – our lawyers and lobbyists are continually involved in congressional efforts to protect hemp farmers and businesses operating under the current pilot program regime, established by the 2014 Farm Bill. Unfortunately, there have been several misguided attempts by some federal agencies to interfere with the critical work being done across the country under the purview of state agriculture departments.
This week, however, we are scoring a big victory.
As you may have read, Congress has agreed upon, and will soon pass, a new Omnibus Spending bill that keeps the entire federal government operating. The document, as you can imagine, is thousands of pages long.
Within the new Omnibus bill are some critical provisions that protect hemp farmers and businesses – as well as the interstate sale and transport of hemp — and specifically call out the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), ordering them not to interfere with hemp pilot programs.
Specifically, the FY18 Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, Rural Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act includes the following section:
SEC. 729. None of the funds made available by this Act or any other Act may be used—
(1) in contravention of section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. 5940); or
(2) to prohibit the transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp, or seeds of such plant, that is grown or cultivated in accordance with subsection section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 6 2014, within or outside the State in which the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated.
(See pp. 98-99 of the full text .pdf)
Furthermore, the FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act includes the following section:
SEC. 537. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (‘‘Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research’’) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration.
(See pp. 239-240 of the full text .pdf.)
Finally, the Agriculture Appropriations Act also encourages USDA to award competitive grant funding for hemp research:
SEC. 730. Funds provided by this or any prior Appropriations Act for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative under 7 U.S.C. 450i(b) shall be made available without regard to section 7128 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. 3371 note), under the matching requirements in laws in effect on the date before the date of enactment of such section: Provided, That the requirements of 7 U.S.C. 450i(b)(9) shall continue to apply.
(See p. 99 of the full text .pdf.)
All and all, this is great news for the hemp industry: more access to grant dollars and less interference by federal agencies.
To ensure that these provisions are enforced, we need your help. If you have any examples of federal agency interference with hemp pilot programs, please notify our General Counsel, Jonathan Miller, at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you haven’t already, please stay in touch with us by signing up here for free as a Hemp Supporter.