Federal Hemp Rules Scare Vermont Farmers

Last week the federal government proposed new hemp regulations where the amount of THC in hemp will be strictly regulated, causing Vermont hemp farmers to panic. THC is the psychoactive compound found in hemp and its cousin marijuana.

On Thursday, the Department of Agriculture released the rules that state that farmers whose hemp has a THC concentration that exceeds 0.3% would be barred from harvesting the crop. Current Vermont law allows farmers to grow hemp with a THC concentration of up to 1%.

The state regulators, processors, and farmers are worried that the stringent THC measures could end up hurting hemp farmers in Vermont.

An official working for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets who oversees the hemp program in Vermont, Cary Giguere, estimated that about 70% of this year’s hemp crop can exceed the stipulated 0.3% THC limit, thus not complying with the proposed federal regulations.

CBD,a product of hemp, is widely sold in Vermont. Patients use CBD as an alternative to conventional medicine, and its THC must be 0.3% or below according to the new USDA rules. It is challenging to control THC levels in hemp plants; but, hemp with more than 0.3% THC can be processed to remove the excess psychoactive compound.

According to Giguere, Farmers in Vermont will continue following Vermont hemp laws because it will take close to two years before the federal government finalizes the rules. But, after it is through, it will reexamine and reapprove hemp program rules in Vermont using the new measures.

He is talking with the USDA to go easy on some of the recommended THC regulations. Giguere said that in the U.S., hemp farmers are in a state of panic because of the proposed federal measures that are stricter than other countries. He added that farmers spent a lot to cultivate the crop, and instead of condemning the plant, they should find ways through which THC can be reduced through processing.

He also said that when the federal bill was written, the authors were more focused on the law and less on the farmers.

The reasoning behind the proposal of the stringent rules is not expounded on by the USDA spokesperson. The spokesperson just quoted that hemp is a marijuana plant with a THC of 0.3%, and no further information was provided.

The co-founder of Northeast Hemp Commodities in Middlebury,  Rye Matthews, said that the proposed federal regulations have the potential to hurt the hemp industry, especially small businesses. His company grows and processes hemp. He concurred with Giguere by saying the proposed rules were written with law enforcement in mind.

The rules stipulate that hemp crops whose levels of THC are higher than 0.3% should be destroyed. The THC tests and the destruction of hot plants, are to be regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

State senator John Rodgers has a hemp farm. He also participated in writing Vermont’s hemp regulations. He says that as hemp matures to give maximum CBD, the THC content also rises above 0.3 percent. Consequently, most of the mature hemp plants have a THC level ranging between 0.5%-0.6%.

Senator Rodgers furthers said that the proposed federal regulation is ludicrous and a waste of taxpayer’s revenue. He adds that hemp could help save Vermont farms, and the same applies to the other states, but if the DEA and the feds get involved, hemp farming will not be a successful venture for the small farmers.

Industry analysts are very interested in hearing the uncensored opinion of CBD companies like Sugarmade Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) and Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) about the implications of these newly released federal hemp production rules.

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