Hemp Regulatory News

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Maine's State Hemp Program Continues For Another Year

Although Maine submitted a plan for a USDA-compliant hemp licensing program back in August to meet an October deadline, we were later given the option by USDA to continue our state pilot program under the 2014 Farm Bill for one more year. And that is what we are doing for 2021. Visit DACF's hemp web page and watch our Ag Trades Show presentation to learn more about the licensing program and how to apply for a license. 

Maine Legislative Update

Meanwhile, there is state legislative work to be done. To implement a USDA approved plan, amendments will need to be in place to bring state statutes into conformance with the federal rule. Once the new statutes are in place the Department will have to amend the current licensing rules in CMR 01-001 Chapter 274 to fully implement an approved state plan for the 2022 growing season. Because the federal rule requires a 10-year prohibition on licensing if an applicant has been convicted of a felony related to controlled substances, 5 MRSA § 5303 will need to be amended. Several changes are needed to 7 MRSA § 2231 including defining 'key participants' in a hemp farm operation, removing the exemption from licensing of the three personal use hemp plants per adult, and removing confidentiality around hemp business location information since states and growers will need to regularly report location information to Maine's USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). A hearing for this bill (LD 33), which is titled "An Act To Improve the Laws Governing Hemp by Bringing Them
into Compliance with Federal Law", is scheduled for February 11, 2021 at 10 am. Due to Covid-19, proceedings are not in-person but are available online. Anyone interested in submitting testimony can do so electronically.

USDA Releases Final Hemp Rule

On January 15, 2021, the USDA announced the final rule regulating hemp production in the United States, with an effective date of March 22, 2021. The final rule is not the same as the interim final rule published October 31, 2019. The USDA did make changes based on feedback submitted to the agency during two rounds of public comment. Notable changes include:

  • a doubling of the window for pre-harvest sampling to 30 days
  • an increase in the 'negligent violation' threshold from 0.5% THC to 1.0%
  • allowance for on-farm disposal of non-compliant hemp, and
  • the ability of states and tribes to use 'performance based sampling' to justify not sampling certain hemp lots.

Some controversial provisions remain unchanged in the final rule including defining hemp by a Total THC concentration of no more than 0.3% (dry weight). Many would have liked this increased to 1.0% Total THC, but such a change would require Congressional action. USDA has more information about the final rule and the domestic hemp program. 

White House Freezes All New Federal Regulations

Just a few days after the USDA announced the final rule for hemp, the White House pressed pause on all recently enacted federal regulations so that the new administration could have a chance to review them. According to a USDA Hemp Program spokesperson, this action is not expected to affect the final rule, although he added that there is a possibility for another public comment period, which would subsequently delay the effective date. Stayed tuned.

Best regards,
Mary Yurlina
Hemp Program Manager