The U.S. Department of Agriculture has submitted its hemp regulations to the White House Office of Management and Budget for approval, according to a UPI report. The rules are expected to designate hemp as a commodity crop and allow tribal councils and U.S. territories to cultivate hemp crops.
Geoff Whaling, chair of the Washington, D.C.-based National Hemp Association, told UPI that he expects the rules will be released “in a matter of weeks.”
The OMB has scheduled meetings to hear public comments on the proposed regulations. Following the removal of hemp from the federal drug schedule last year, several state legislatures passed hemp legalization legislation that included state regulations for the crop; however, the USDA must approve those plans before they can be permanently enacted — these regulations are the first step toward the approval of those state plans.
Last month, the USDA Risk Management Agency announced that hemp qualifies for federal crop insurance as long as farmers are compliant with state and federal regulations. In May, the agency issued its first organic certification for a hemp flower product; although the agency had certified other hemp products in the past, such as Food and Drug Administration-approved food products. In April, the USDA released guidance for importing hemp seeds, which previously required Drug Enforcement Administration approval.
The agency had up to one year to finalize the regulations following the bill’s passage in December. The USDA initially predicted the rules would be in place by August.
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