Hemp production key component of rural economic development

Colorado Department of Agriculture

DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg have submitted additional comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the Interim Final Rule related to the establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program.

USDA solicited additional comments on 12 topics and plans to release the Final Rule in early 2021. Colorado will submit its State Hemp Plan to USDA following the release of the Final Rule.

Colorado’s supplemental comments emphasize the importance of USDA creating a flexible and workable regulatory structure to support Colorado’s hemp industry and create more opportunities for Colorado’s agricultural producers. Specific comments in response to USDA’s Interim Final Rule include:

• Expanding the allowed sampling window from 15 days before anticipated harvest to 30 days;

• Increasing the threshold for negligent hemp production from 0.5 percent THC to 1.0 percent THC;

• Proposing a program for disposal and remediation of non-compliant hemp plants to preserve value for producers;

• Supporting the adoption of a “whole plant” approach to the sampling methodology for hemp;

• Creating less burdensome requirements for the methodology used to sample hemp, including reducing the number of cuttings needed to collect a valid sample;

• Facilitating the flow of interstate commerce by creating a uniform documentation and tracking system for hemp transported across state boundaries;

• Eliminating the requirement for DEA registration of laboratories used to analyze hemp samples;

• Supporting the creation of a more robust training program for third party samplers (also known as sampling agents);

• Supporting the establishment of a measurement of uncertainty for pre-laboratory sampling of hemp;

• Establishing a separate and more flexible regulatory regime for hemp seedlings, microgreens and clones;

• Encouraging hemp breeding and research; and

• Establishing a liquid chromatography factor of 0.877.

Colorado’s comments also underscore the concern that USDA’s Interim Final Rule may create an uneven impact on small, beginning and socially disadvantaged hemp growers and producers. The State of Colorado has operated an innovative industrial hemp program since 2014. Colorado currently is the leading producer of industrial hemp in the United States.

The Polis administration submitted initial comments in January 2020. ❖