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USDA Gives Public More Time To Comment On Hemp Regulations

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the public comment period on proposed hemp regulations that was initially set to expire at the end of December.

“USDA is committed to issuing the final rule expeditiously after reviewing public comments and obtaining additional information during the initial implementation,” the department wrote in a notice set to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. “In response to requests by commenters to [the Agricultural Marketing Service] and executive departments and agencies that the public comment due date for this rule be extended, AMS is extending the comment period by an additional thirty (30) days.”

Now, stakeholders will have until January 29, 2020 to send feedback on USDA’s interim final rule for hemp production and processing.

The extension was requested by a number of lawmakers, regulators and businesses.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), for example, said last month that “there are all kinds of issues, and some people believe the [THC] level they set is way too low, because it’s way below the harmful level.”

“You put all that together and they need to look at these rules and re-examine them,” he said. “This has tremendous, tremendous potential, and all the excitement about growing and processing hemp, and creating lots of jobs, could go away if these rules are done in too narrow and restrictive a way.”

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture also asked for more time.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) called the USDA’s decision to grant an extension “great news” in a tweet on Tuesday.

Hemp industry participants have raised a number of concerns with the proposal, including procedures for THC testing and the disposal of plants that don’t meet potency requirements.

Now they will have more time to compile their requests for changes.

“USDA may request more comments after the 2020 growing season has ended,” the department wrote in the new notice extending the current feedback deadline.

Senators Push USDA To Adopt Five Changes To Proposed Hemp Regulations

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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