The current U.S. hemp scene can only be described as confusing. In fact, the cash crop’s resurgence has been marked with lots of confusion due to a lax regulatory structure. The Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp, and the only stipulation it made was that hemp had to have less than 0.3% THC to be considered legal. The industry has labored under this stipulation for the past year, and hemp farmers have had to bear the brunt.
Ted Galaty, a Minnesota hemp farmer and owner of Hemp Maze Minnesota, recently had a package of industrial hemp confiscated in the mail. He was sending the hemp to a lab for THC testing, but he learned that the lab hadn’t received his sample. Upon checking the package tracking, he met an alert notifying him that his package had been ‘seized by law enforcement.’
In October 2019, a couple of months after the Farm Bill was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published its interim final rule on hemp. The rule reiterated the Farm Bill’s stance on THC levels and stated that farmers had to have their hemp tested before harvest. Hemp that exceeds the federally allowed limit is called ‘hot hemp’ and has to be destroyed.
However, different policies in different states make interstate transport of hemp a complicated issue. Galaty was testing the first of four planned indoor hemp crops, and he was sending it to Colorado to save money. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture charges $250 for each grow location while the Colorado company he contracted charged about $30.
Postal guidelines state that the sender of any package containing industrial hemp must have proof that the crop was grown under a valid state license, and must have lab results showing it has less than 0.3% THC. However, since Galaty was sending his samples out for that very test, his package didn’t have the results.
Hemp is virtually identical to marijuana, and without THC testing capabilities, it’s impossible to tell them apart. This has made it quite difficult for postal inspectors to handle hemp cases objectively.
“It creates an indie amount of work for us,” says Rachel Williams, inspector and team leader of the U.S. Postal Service’s Contraband Investigation and Interdiction Team. After a short conversation with Galaty clarifying the issue, she had his hemp sent on its way to Colorado for testing.
Galaty understands that the postal inspectors were exercising due diligence. “I’m not saying they’re in the wrong. We just need to work out a better way to do this,” he says.
Experts say it is such unfortunate stories of what hemp farmers go through that makes companies like Champignon Brands Inc. (CSE: SHRM) to be frustrated by the seemingly endless litany of encounters between law-abiding farmers and overly suspicious law enforcement personnel.
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