USDA discusses response to marijuana feedback request

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The department has sought input following the approval of the 2018 Farm Bill

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has opened the floor to comments regarding hemp and its place in the nation’s economy. The move comes after the government approved the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp cultivation, but which still authorizes the USDA to oversee the industry.

The USDA held a three-hour session yesterday, which saw the participation of state governments, operators from the hemp industry and a handful of Indian tribes from across the country. The purpose of the session was to allow the department to receive feedback regarding hemp’s legalization and to help establish a path for hemp’s future. The session was Internet-based and ultimately attracted over 3,000 people and 60 speakers.

One of the states that participated was Kentucky, a long-time tobacco state. The Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture, Ryan Quarles, participated in person in Washington, wanting to make sure that his message was heard loud and clear. He introduced a plan for hemp cultivation, the details of which have not been released, asserting, “We don’t know if it can replace tobacco, but we know it’s becoming part of our greater agriculture portfolio.”

One of the concerns raised regarded transportation. Although hemp can now be legally cultivated, there have been no provisions for interstate transportation. As such, any attempt to send hemp across state lines could result in federal criminal charges.

The session was beneficial and should help the USDA develop its plans. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue, and the department, are actively working on a new regulatory framework, which is expected to be ready before the 2020 grow season.