USDA, DOJ in talks about real-time hemp certification to ease transport issues

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is talking about getting real-time hemp information to law enforcement authorities in order to ease interstate hemp shipments.

An information-sharing platform with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) could provide “some level of solution” that shipments are legal hemp and not illegal marijuana, according to USDA attorney Mai Dinh.

Dinh talked about the plan last month at a conference of the Food and Drug Institute. Her remarks were first reported by IEG Policy, a news agency covering agriculture and food policy.

Dinh said the system under development would include the licensing information provided to the USDA by approved hemp producers as well as reports on the sampling and testing of their crops.

The goal, she said, is to allow law enforcement “to tap into the system in real time … and be able to match up whatever certificate is with the shipment with the information that is in the database.”

Dinh didn’t offer a firm timeline for when the database would be working.

“The initial iteration of it in the next year or so will probably be pretty crude,” she added, noting the process likely will improve as the USDA spends “more time and resources to build out a more sophisticated system.”

Interstate transportation is guaranteed for hemp products under the 2018 Farm Bill, but industry operators have been subject to sporadic seizures and drug arrests from law-enforcement agencies unable to determine whether a shipment is hemp or marijuana.