A resolution favoring loosening of federal regulations governing hemp production has been adopted by the Colorado Senate, and in a few days, the House is expected to follow in their shoes.
The state’s legislature, together with the Department of Agriculture, are urging the federal government to establish rules that are less stringent on the state’s hemp program which has been in operation since 2014. This happened after the Senate spoke with the farmers and the industries they supply with their harvest. On January 24, the Senate adopted the resolution whereby the lawmakers swore to support regulatory revisions that are to be sent to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) next week by the Department of Agriculture in Colorado (CDA).
Senators Stephen Fenberg, who is a Democrat from Boulder, and Vicki Marble, a Republican from Fort Collins, as well as state representatives Edie Hooton from Boulder (D) and Lori Sane (R), introduced the resolution which was voted 31-0.
Fenberg explained to his Senate colleagues that the resolution provides the USDA with written comments. He further said that in recent years several changes have taken place at the federal level concerning hemp production licensing and regulation.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the USDA is requested to be in control of hemp farming by November 2020. Hemp was legalized at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill. The USDA released the interim final rules in October 2019, and they were criticized by the Colorado hemp community, industry stakeholders, and farmers. Most of them were concerned with the involvement of the Drug Enforcement Administration in THC potency testing, as well as the unclear language of hemp storage between harvesting and the testing period.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, states are allowed to submit their hemp plans for hemp regulation to the USDA for approval. The Colorado Department of Agriculture’s hemp program is backed by the Senate resolution. The hemp plan requests the agency to allow farmers to remediate crops whose THC test results are above the legal limit of 0.3%. It also seeks permission for hemp testing labs certified by the state to operate without DEA supervision.
According to the resolution, Colorado has been a leader in establishing policies that are in favor of hemp production, protecting the farmers and consumers, as well as the treatment of hemp as an agricultural product instead of a controlled substance. The comments submitted to the agency on the interim rules offer a range of opinions on how they could allow for greater flexibility and equity in the regulation of hemp production within the state. This would enhance the industry’s growth and protect farmers and consumers.
Marble said that once the General Assembly letter arrives, most of the comments the USDA will read are from the farmers. Senator Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose, owns four hemp farms within Colorado. While speaking to his peers, Coram said that if the USDA interim rules are adopted as they are, the hemp industry could stall or worsen. He further noted that the hemp industry in Colorado would be non-existent since the rules are so erroneous and stringent, and as farmers and the state, they can not comply. By the end of this month, the CDA is expected to submit the state hemp regulations for federal approval.
Industry watchers believe that hemp companies like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) are hoping that federal regulators will think hard about the views shared by the lawmakers in Colorado so that the hemp rules are tweaked to support rather than hinder the industry.
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