Funding Bill Would Extend U.S. Hemp Pilot Program

Funding bill and hemp
Image: NickyPE

A House of Representatives funding bill introduced this week would enable an extension of the USA’s 2014 hemp pilot program until September 2021.

States can continue to operate hemp pilot programs under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill until the end of October when the USDA’s Interim Final Rule is meant to come into full force. But the IFR has created plenty of controversy and there have been growing calls to delay implementation. Recognising there are still kinks to be ironed out, early this month the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was reopening the comment period (again).

But a recently reintroduced bill would remove reliance on the USDA – and states – getting their act together in time.

The Agriculture Improvement Act 2018 (aka 2018 Farm Bill) currently states regarding implementation:

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‘the date that is 1 year after the date on which the Secretary establishes a plan under section 297C of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946″

.. which brings us to the end of the October. Under the funding bill, this wording would be replaced with:

“September 30, 2021”

The National Industrial Hemp Council welcomed this development.

“We see this as a positive development for hemp farmers across the country,” said Patrick Atagi, Board Chairman of the NIHC. “We’ve continued to tell Congress that a global pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for states to meet and develop plans to be submitted to the USDA for approval before the expiration of the pilot program.”

In other recent regulatory related news out of the USA, the Hemp Industries Association and a South Carolina company have filed a federal lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration. The suit challenges an interim rule the DEA implemented last month that the HIA says could have far-reaching consequences for the U.S. hemp industry.

As we reported last month, the rule would make in-process hemp extract temporarily containing delta-9 THC exceeding 0.3%  a schedule I substance, even if the THC is diluted or removed in an end product, according to Daniel Shortt, a business attorney at Harris Bricken.

“The DEA’s interim final rule could create substantial barriers to the legal manufacturing of hemp-derived products, a critical component of the hemp supply chain, and devastate the entire hemp industry,” said HIA President Rick Trojan