USDA extends window for public comments on hemp regulations

344 0

The government agency wants more input before establishing its guidelines

The public comment period by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on hemp regulations was set to expire by the end of this month; however, it will be extended a little longer. The new expiration date is now set for January 29, 2020 so stakeholders can send their feedback on the USDA interim final rule for producing hemp and process it.

“USDA is committed to issuing the final rule expeditiously after reviewing public comments and obtaining additional information during the initial implementation,” said a note published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. According to this same note, “In response to requests by commenters to [the Agricultural Marketing Service] and executive departments and agencies that the public comment due date for this rule be extended, AMS is extending the comment period by an additional thirty (30) days.”

Several lawmakers, regulators and companies requested this extension. For example, Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, reported several issues with this proposal, such as setting a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level way lower than the actual harmful level. He asserts, “You put all that together and they need to look at these rules and re-examine them. This has tremendous, tremendous potential, and all the excitement about growing and processing hemp, and creating lots of jobs, could go away if these rules are done in too narrow and restrictive a way.”

Other hemp industry organizations are presenting several concerns, as well, including the procedures for testing the amount of THC and how the disposal process would be for those plants that don’t meet the requirements. “USDA may request more comments after the 2020 growing season has ended,” said the department in a news notice after extending the period to get feedback.