Delaware Awaits USDA Approval for its Hemp Program

Hemp had been banished to the list of controlled substances for decades before the 2018 Farm Bill changed everything. The legislation classified industrial hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive high, and according to the regulations laid out by the Farm Bill, legal industrial hemp has to have minuscule amounts of the chemical.

Apart from the THC limits, the legislation also instructed states and tribes to create their own hemp programs and submit them starting December 2, 2019, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for approval. The USDA was also to create a regulatory oversight program for hemp and include provisions for the USDA to authorize plans proposed by states and Native American tribes.

The state of Delaware submitted its state plan on December 16, and according to farmers, they are itching for the approval to come through so they can start growing the versatile crop. Three states have already gotten approval from the USDA; New Jersey, Ohio, and Louisiana as well as three Native American tribes; Flandreau Santee Sioux, Santa Rosa Cahuilla and La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indian Tribes.

In October 2019, the USDA released the interim final rule on hemp after continued calls from legislators and industry players to regulate the industry. Although the rule introduces a more comprehensive regulatory structure to the runaway industry, there have been complaints that the new rules are too stringent and they may spell doom for the nascent sector.

In the year since industrial hemp became legal, the crop is worth millions in sales, and experts posit the industry will hit $20 billion by 2024. The plant is insanely versatile, with applications ranging from textiles and construction materials to shoes, paper, and food. It’s also one of the fastest-growing cash crops out there, achieving maturity around 3 months after planting.

However, most of the demand for hemp is being driven by hemp extract cannabidiol, or CBD. Cannabis produces over 100 cannabinoids, chemicals unique to cannabis, and CBD and THC make up a large percentage of the total produced. But unlike THC, cannabidiol isn’t psychoactive, and it won’t give you a psychoactive high. It is said to be a potent natural medicine, and people have been using CBD products to manage conditions like insomnia, chronic pain, and anxiety.

Inhof says that the state would like to see some of the new hemp rules amended, such as the restrictions on testing labs and allowable THC content, from 0.3% to 0.5% or even 1%.

It is believed that while it would be good for all state hemp production programs to be approved by the USDA, industry players like Dama Financial and SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING) would to see the federal rules modified to address the concerns that have so far been raised by stakeholders.

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