Published by Alexander Marx Ortega | March 24, 2023
A plan to loosen laws on farmers who cultivate industrial hemp for non-extraction uses has been introduced by a bipartisan pair of U.S. senators.
The Industrial Hemp Act, which was unveiled on Thursday by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mike Braun (R-IN), is the most recent piece of legislative legislation to address the crop, which was made legal by the 2018 Farm Bill.
Currently, hemp and products derived from it like CBD that have a THC content of less than 0.3 percent by dry weight are not considered to be restricted drugs, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is in charge of regulatory oversight (USDA). The new legislation aims to distinguish between “industrial” hemp, which is produced for goods like fiber, and “hemp for any purpose,” which would include crops planted to extract cannabinoids like CBD.
Industrial hemp farmers would no longer need to pass stringent testing and sampling criteria in order to participate in the market. They would also no longer be subject to background checks.
They would just need to show that they are cultivating the crop for a use covered by the new definition of “industrial hemp” during an annual visual inspection instead. They would then need to present paperwork proving “a clear intent and in-field procedures commensurate with the categorization” of industrial hemp if they failed the initial visual examination. Regulators wouldn’t be allowed to physically test collected plant material until after they declined to do so.
“Montana farmers don’t need government bureaucrats putting unnecessary burdens on their operations, it’s time we cut red tape, and make it easier for industrial hemp farmers to get their product to market. My bipartisan bill builds on Montana’s leadership on hemp policy and creates good-paying jobs for folks across rural America,” According to Tester’s news release.
According to Braun “It’s important that we set American farmers up for success by cutting burdensome regulations and red tape. This legislation will expand opportunities for industrial hemp producers in Indiana and across the country and allow them to tap into one of the fastest growing agricultural markets,” the senator said.
Moreover, the law precludes states and tribal governments from imposing rules on industrial hemp producers that are stricter than those listed in the legislation. Furthermore, it states that for a period of five years, anybody who intentionally produces hemp crops that are not in accordance with their classification is prohibited to work in the legal hemp sector.
The launch of this measure coincides with the intensifying debate over the next Farm Bill, in which lawmakers are anticipated to try to include provisions that would further reduce restrictions on the hemp industry. To date in this Congress, stakeholders have supported a number of independent bills that deal with the problem.