December 22, 2020

Good News for Hemp on Capitol Hill

U.S. Hemp Roundtable

In the waning days of this last Congress, thanks to YOUR advocacy, we have been able to secure a helpful push for hemp from Capitol Hill.

By now, you are likely well aware of the DEA’s notorious Interim Final Rule (IFR), which purports to criminalize the hemp extraction process. In short, the IFR suggests that hemp that tests above 0.3% THC at any point in the extraction process – when natural, temporary spikes occur – would be considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance, akin to heroin.

Many of you joined us in submitting comments to the DEA, which were bolstered by letters sent by many of our friends in Congress.

Today, there’s even better news from Capitol Hill. Thanks to your advocacy, we were able to secure report language in the soon-to-be-passed omnibus appropriations bill that directs USDA to assume authority over the issue and protect in-process hemp extract:

In addition, the USDA shall develop regulations, within existing authority, that protect the transportation, processing, sale, or use of hemp and in-process hemp extract, that may temporarily exceed a delta-9 THC concentration of 0.3%, including in-process hemp extract that was: (1) produced from hemp that meets the definition of hemp under 7 U.S.C. §16390; (2) cultivated in accordance with subtitle G of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 [7 U.S.C. 16390 et seq.] (as added by section 10113 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of2018) or section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of2014 [7 U.S.C. 5940]; (3) not packaged as a finished product; and ( 4) not sold or offered for sale as a finished product to consumers.

Report language is not legally binding. However, Congress is making a strong, bipartisan statement that in-process hemp should be protected, and its regulation should not be the jurisdiction of the DEA. Further, from our numerous meetings with the Biden Transition Team, we are optimistic that the new Administration, led by USDA Secretary-deignate and hemp friend Tom Vilsack, will follow Congress’ lead and protect hemp farmers and processors from DEA intrusion.

There’s still work to do, of course. But convincing Congressional leaders to include this language in a must-pass appropriations bill demonstrates their overwhelming, bi-partisan support for our industry and our farmers. Because so many of you made your voices heard, Congress is listening…and acting.