North Dakota Opts to Continue With Old Hemp Rules in 2020

At the beginning of 2019, North Dakota and Montana submitted their hemp plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency rejected North Dakota’s proposal since it was submitted before the interim final rules were released, but it is reviewing Montana’s revised plan irrespective of the stringent THC testing measures stipulated by the agency.

Hemp and marijuana are almost similar, except that hemp contains close to zero levels of THC. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Hemp is fibrous and can be used to make a wide range of products such as paper, clothing, rope, and cosmetics. It is viewed as a versatile cash crop in the agriculture industry.

Cultivation of hemp under the 2014 hemp pilot rules has been allowed to continue until October 31this year and North Dakota and Montana opted to plant hemp under their old programs this season.

Speaking to the Williston Herald, the Agriculture Commissioner in North Dakota Doug Goehring said that they thought that their plan would only require minor changes when they submitted it to the USDA for review.

Goehring further said that they had not taken into consideration that CBD was also in the mix, and that may be the most significant challenge the USDA is contending with as it changes the regulatory dynamics.

The new rules have increased the hemp testing requirements since the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and FDA have a role to play in testing hemp products, especially CBD oil produced from hemp flowers.

CBD is found in both hemp and marijuana, and it is believed to possess a wide range of healing benefits.

The USDA interim rule stipulates that federally authorized agents must collect testing samples from the farmer’s lots 15 days before harvest. The samples are then sent to a DEA-registered laboratory for analysis. The agents are required to obtain one plant per acre for lots of 10 acres or less. There is a formula for determining sampling frequency for larger farms.

The sampling frequency is set up in a way that ensures that it covers 95% of the field and that the plants do not produce THC whose concentration is more than 0.3%.

Plants whose THC is more than the stipulated limit must be immediately destroyed.

Goehring has also asked the USDA to consider splitting grain and fiber from CBD to ease the pain of loss for some hemp farmers. Goehring is also the president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Goehring noted that hemp farming is going to need robust inspection, but is it expensive and labor-intensive to collect samples from large fields. Furthermore, the costs of the test will most likely end up breaking the grower and the program since each test goes for about $100 to $115. Moreover, the test would be of no use to growers cultivating hemp for fiber or grain. Goehring said that they would be working with the USDA to sort out this issue. And, afterward, he will resubmit a new plan.

Goehring is optimistic that North Dakota and other states whose plans were rejected will have another chance since the agency is listening to the industry stakeholders’ concerns about the interim rules.

Analysts see this tide of states opting out of implementing the federal hemp rules this year as a development that hemp companies, such as No Borders Inc. (OTC: NBDR), who will be keenly following to see whether it compels the USDA eases the restrictions contained in the federal hemp rules.

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