· The DEA’s Interim Final Rules have applied that 0.3 percent threshold to every part of processing, which “sent shock waves” through the industry, particularly among processors themselves, the report says. A sample problem: Oils and extracts commonly test above the threshold at some point in the process. What’s needed is a nonpunitive, normalized remediation policy, Whitney advises.
“Hemp is poised to become a transformational crop that can rival corn, soy, wheat and cotton,” the report declares. But solving those regulatory and agricultural sector problems has to come first.
Still, the plethora of different regulations by state, combined with the federal limitations, has caused a “regulatory quagmire slowing down growth and suppressing investment.” And this issue has been critical to building out infrastructure, adds the Whitney report, titled “Déjà vu: An Economic Analysis of the U.S. Hemp Cultivation Industry.”
· A lack of buyers and cash at multiple industry levels: notably, 63 percent of farmers surveyed this year said they couldn’t find buyers.
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Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa) being grown in Maryland.
· Many farmers have trouble limiting their crops to that USDA 0.3 percent THC threshold. Inadvertently producing what’s called a “hot” crop has been an issue for 25 percent of the crop overall, and therefore a significant financial risk factor for farmers.
“That general confusion is also entering into the policy level on the federal side,” Whitney continued, “and [regulators] are trying to draw this line of demarcation about what hemp actually is without necessarily understanding the agricultural potential of the crop.”
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· Banks and other ancillary services like insurance were approved for hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill, but many banks, like regulators, are still having problems differentiating hemp for industrial products from cannabis for medical uses and from marijuana for adult use.
For grain, the numbers were 18,561 acres, $638 per acre and $25 million overall. For fiber, the numbers were 14,831 acres planted, $300 revenue per acre and $4.5 million overall.
This week, Congress agreed to the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill, and President Trump is expected to sign the legislation within days. But this is not your typical farm bill. While it provides important agricultural and nutritional policy extensions for five years, the most interesting changes involve the cannabis plant. Typically, cannabis is not part of the conversation around farm subsidies, nutritional assistance, and crop insurance. Yet, this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strong support of and leadership on the issue of hemp has thrust the cannabis plant into the limelight.
It’s true that hemp policy in the United States has been drastically transformed by this new legislation. However, there remain some misconceptions about what, exactly, this policy change does.
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However, the new Farm Bill does not create a completely free system in which individuals or businesses can grow hemp whenever and wherever they want. There are numerous restrictions.