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USDA releases hemp production requirements

by Britt E. Erickson
November 2, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 43


Photo of hemp growing in a field.
Credit: Shutterstock
A new USDA rule establishes federal oversight of hemp production.

The US Department of Agriculture is seeking comments on a rule that establishes federal oversight of hemp production in the US. The rule, released Oct. 29, provides information on where farmers can grow hemp, standards for sampling and testing the crop, and the process for disposing of plants that do not meet federal requirements. The USDA will soon begin reviewing state programs to ensure that they comply with the new federal standards. Hemp is part of the cannabis family but does not contain sufficient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to produce a high. Under federal law, hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp is used in numerous products, including textiles, paper, construction materials, food, and cosmetics. However, the growing demand for cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is processed from hemp flowers, is driving the recent boom in hemp production. The hemp industry is urging the US Food and Drug Administration to enact rules for hemp-derived CBD in dietary supplements, food and beverages, and cosmetics to ensure safety, quality, and accurate labeling. “We have not seen CBD really take off yet,” says Michael Weiner, a partner at the law firm Dorsey & Whitney. “I think a big part of it has to do with the regulatory uncertainty.”


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