November 27, 2023

Grow hemp or marijuana? USDA wants farmers to choose

According to recent reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is revoking hemp licenses for farmers participating in state-approved marijuana programs that are also operating under the USDA’s federal hemp production guidelines. A Politico article published over the weekend shed light on this issue, further elucidated by Marijuana Moment in this article with perspective from U.S. Hemp Roundtable General Counsel, Jonathan Miller. 

In his statement, Miller emphasized that the situation is “not only very unfortunate, but it’s also counterintuitive,” considering the shared expertise between growing hemp and marijuana. He criticized the stance taken by the USDA, and urged the agency to reconsider, suggesting potential amendments in the Farm Bill if statutory limitations exist. 

“The expertise gained by growing one plant is very transferable to the other—they basically are the same species—and having a black-and-white bar like this is bad public policy. I would hope that USDA would revisit this, and if they believe their hands are tied by statute, then it is something we should fix in the Farm Bill,” said Jonathan Miller, U.S. Hemp Roundtable General Counsel.

While reports indicate uncertainty about the number of affected farmers and the administrative handling of the issue, the USDA has yet to publicly respond. A spokesperson for the agency told Politico that the USDA regulates all states and hemp growers uniformly.

Taking a proactive stance, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable has stepped in to advocate for equal opportunities for all hemp farmers, irrespective of their involvement in legal marijuana cultivation. The organization is encouraging affected farmers to share their stories, recognizing the significance of firsthand accounts in their outreach efforts.

If you are a farmer whose hemp license has been revoked by the USDA due to legal marijuana cultivation in your state, we encourage you to share your experiences. Firsthand narratives are crucial in shaping our advocacy efforts!

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