Hemp rules delayed and insurance could take years, US senators told in key update

(This story has been updated with details from Thursday’s hearing.)

Nationwide hemp rules won’t be available until this fall, though they’re expected in time for the 2020 growing season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) told U.S. senators Thursday in an update on the new hemp industry.

But crop insurance for hemp will likely take years to develop because of uncertainty about yields, USDA undersecretary Greg Ibach told the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry during a hearing Thursday.

The committee called Trump administration officials who regulate agriculture, public health and pesticides to testify about where the hemp rulemaking stands.

The USDA had predicted hemp rules would be ready for review in August.

But USDA undersecretary Greg Ibach said Thursday that those rules won’t be ready for public view until the fall, because regulating the new crop is complicated.

Ibach told the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry that interest in hemp farming far outstrips market expertise.

“We have encouraged producers … to look for a partner, look for a customer. One of our big concerns is that production and consumption and processing won’t align with each other,” Ibach said.

He was frank about how little is known about how profitable hemp truly is, delaying insurance availability.

“As far as being able to track the market value of those crops, we really don’t have good information there,” he said.

Senators also heard that it’ll take time to figure out whether hemp extracts such as CBD should be allowed in food and dietary supplements.

Dr. Amy Abernethy, who leads the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s work group on cannabinoids such as CBD, defended the agency’s position that more research is needed to prove CBD safety before unleashing the industry.

“The same rule applies to most active drug ingredients. It’s common sense. We generally don’t want drugs added to food,” she said.

Abernethy added that the only approved CBD drug, a medicine that treats epilepsy, has been shown to have side effects such as liver damage and exhaustion.

“What about situations where CBD is in your morning cereal? You consume a CBD lozenge or you apply CBD skin cream? What if you take these every day, together, for months? For years?” she asked, saying Americans expect answers before such CBD products are allowed.

The National Hemp Association testified and urged the USDA to focus on making a national THC-testing procedure, instead of rules that vary from state to state.

The committee did not take up any proposed legislation relating to hemp or CBD in Thursday’s hearing.

“If states implement too many different testing protocols, we are left in a situation where what is legal in one state may be considered illegal in another state,” NHA executive director Erica Stark said.

The group also submitted written testimony calling for a ban on importing hemp biomass from outside North America.

The Senate hearing did not take up any proposed new legislation relating to hemp or CBD.

Kristen Nichols can be reached at [email protected]

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2 comments on “Hemp rules delayed and insurance could take years, US senators told in key update
  1. Ray on

    “Among other things, the industry group is expected to request:

    A ban on importing hemp biomass from countries outside North America.”

    Yes! How can anyone be against this? We as a nation need to export hemp products not import hemp biomass, let’s get the American Hemp farmer back in business with solid laws that benefit not hinder the American Hemp Farmer!

    Also: as far as smokeable hemp is concerned, if a farmer grows and dries his hemp crop that’s fine. But as soon as that farmer pulls a dried bud from his crop, drops the flower in a pipe and lights it he’s a criminal? That makes absolutely no sense at all. Bad laws are just too obvious, how can hemp become marijuana because it’s lit in fire. Does OxyContin become heroin when it’s lit on fire?

    Reply
  2. Aldine Riley on

    If hemp for state of Texas and other state they need to let .AMERICAN FARMER FRIE THERE ON CROW ON THERE HOME LAND NOT OTHER COUNTRY. MAKE THEM GET ALL THE MONEY OUT OF THE USA . Money need to be back in the USA I’m a big fan of hemp

    Reply

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