Call to Action: Public Comments Period for Proposed Amendment to Hemp Farm Bill

Hemp stakeholders!! Now is the time to submit your comment! Introduced by Rep. Mary Miller, the proposed amendment to the 2024 Farm Bill seeks to close loopholes from the 2018 Farm Bill that have allowed the sale of intoxicating hemp-derived products like delta-8 THC. The proposed amendment aims to significantly alter the regulation of hemp products, particularly those derived for cannabinoid extraction.

Here are the key highlights of the proposed amendment:

Differentiation Between Hemp Types:

The House version of the bill introduces a split definition, distinguishing between “industrial hemp” and “hemp grown for cannabinoid extraction.” This change is designed to address the loophole that allowed the proliferation of intoxicating hemp-derived products under the broad definition of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill​ (Greenway Magazine)​.

The amendment would redefine hemp to only include naturally occurring, non-intoxicating cannabinoids with less than 0.3% total THC, including THCA, on a dry-weight basis. The previous definition of hemp limited only delta-9 THC to not exceed 0.3% whereas the new proposed definition would limit all forms of THC. This change would effectively ban many hemp-derived cannabinoid products currently on the market, including those used for human consumption that contain any detectable levels of THC​ (Cannabis Business Times)​​ (Greenway Magazine)​.

Regulatory Adjustments for Industrial Hemp:

The bill reduces regulatory barriers for farmers growing industrial hemp specifically for grain and fiber purposes, aiming to make it easier for these farmers to operate and compete​ (Cannabis Business Times)​​ (Greenway Magazine)​.

 

Regulation of Intoxicating Hemp Products:

Although the bill does not fully address intoxicating hemp products, there is a significant push from various stakeholders, including state attorney generals and industry groups, to establish clearer regulations to prevent unregulated sales of products like delta-8 THC, which have raised consumer safety concerns​ (Cannabis Business Times)​​ (House Committee on Agriculture)​.

Felon Ban Repeal:

One notable change is the repeal of the ban that prevented individuals with previous felony convictions related to controlled substances from participating in hemp production. This move is intended to promote inclusivity and equity within the industry​ (Cannabis Business Times)​​ (Whole Foods Magazine)​.

Support for Research and Animal Feed:

The bill advocates for the inclusion of hemp grain as animal feed and supports research at minority-serving institutions, aiming to foster innovation and sustainable agricultural practices within the hemp industry​ (Whole Foods Magazine)​.

Laboratory Testing and Consumer Protection:

There is a focus on increasing the availability of testing laboratories accredited by the USDA and ISO 17025 to ensure the safety and quality of hemp products. This measure seeks to protect consumers and provide reliable testing infrastructure for the industry​ (Whole Foods Magazine)​.

These changes reflect the hemp industry’s collective efforts to refine regulations, promote fairness, and ensure consumer safety while fostering growth and stability in the market. The final form of the bill will depend on ongoing negotiations between the House and Senate, with the goal of addressing the diverse needs of stakeholders involved in hemp production and use​ (Cannabis Business Times)​​ (Greenway Magazine)​​ (House Committee on Agriculture)​.

Call to Action: Submit Your Comments

Proponents argue that this amendment is necessary to protect public health and ensure consumer safety by restricting intoxicating hemp products similarly to marijuana. They emphasize the need for clearer guidelines to prevent youth access to these products and to stabilize the market​ (Marijuana Moment)​​ (Greenway Magazine)​.

However, the amendment faces opposition from many lawmakers and industry stakeholders. Critics argue that it would devastate the hemp industry, potentially eliminating up to 95% of hemp products on the market, including non-intoxicating CBD products. They warn that such a broad prohibition could harm farmers, entrepreneurs, and communities that rely on hemp for economic sustainability​ (High Times)​​ (Cannabis Business Times)​​ (Marijuana Moment).

The amendment has sparked a significant debate, with supporters advocating for tighter regulations and opponents calling for more nuanced solutions that do not jeopardize the entire hemp industry. The final decision will hinge on further discussions and votes in the House and Senate​ (Greenway Magazine)​.

Submit Your Comments

To submit comments for the 2024 Farm Bill, you can reach out through several channels:

  1. House Agriculture Committee: They provide updates and details about the 2024 Farm Bill and welcome feedback. Visit their Farm Bill page for more information and submission details.
  2. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry: You can submit comments through their form or by emailing them directly. Details and the submission form are available on their Farm Bill page.
  3. USDA’s Farm Service Agency: This agency provides information and resources related to the Farm Bill. While they do not have a specific comment submission process listed, they offer general contact details and updates which might be helpful for reaching the appropriate contacts. More information can be found on their Farm Bill home page.

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