Senate Minority Leader Asks USDA to Extend Hemp Comments Period

The Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, has requested the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to prolong the public comment duration for the newly released draft hemp rules. He said the reason for his request is because he is concerned about some prohibitory rules included therein.

On Wednesday, Schumer visited a hemp farm in New York, Miller Organics; while there, he discussed the economic potential of industrial hemp and its derivatives. In the month of October, the USDA released draft rules for the crop and although some stakeholders believe they are headed on the right track, others said that the standards are too stringent on the plant.

According to the Daily News, Schumer said that some of the issues raised by the people are the fact that the level of THC set by the draft rules is way too low below the harmful percentage. He therefore called on the agency to re-evaluate the regulations.

Schumer further said that hemp has a load of potential, but if the rules are written narrowly and strictly, it could diminish the excitement about the growing and processing of hemp. The strict rules could also lead to a drop in job creation.

Schumer also noted that more than 500 stakeholders have raised several concerns relating to the rules during the comment period scheduled to end on December 31.

Numerous hemp businesses argued that although hemp is removed from the list of controlled substances and is federally classified as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC, they are urging the USDA to increase the margin of error. Hemp businesses also want the agency to establish an alternative method of testing for THC, which would test only delta-9 THC percentage instead of the full spectrum THC. They also urged the agency to approve testing of THC by other laboratories except the ones registered with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).

Last week Sen. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley sent a letter to the USDA recommending five changes to the proposed rules.

Speaking at the Miller Organics hemp farm in New York, Schumer said that the state is well-positioned to utilize the crop’s legal status fully. He also noted that New York soil, weather, and environmental conditions are ideal for growing industrial hemp, which could result in New York being the best state for growing hemp in the U.S.

Schumer further said the growers in New York, mostly farms fruits and vegetables, and hemp could be a great alternative.

In the beginning, Schumer made the same remarks when he was welcoming Canopy Growth as it was making a multimillion-dollar investment in a hemp cultivation plant in the state.

Schumer also urged the FDA to speed up the process of drafting rules for the CBD industry. Although the USDA released hemp regulation ten months after it was legalized, FDA officials say that developing standards without Congressional action could take the FDA years.

Analysts think that hemp companies like LiveWire Ergogenics Inc. (OTC: LVVV) and Neutra Corp. (OTC: NTRR) find it strange that the production side of hemp is being tightly regulated while the market side of this hemp remains a jungle with no regulations.

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