What is the Industrial Hemp Program?
December 12, Congress passed the 2018 Agriculture and Nutrition Act,
better known as the Farm Bill. The important legislation amends the
classification of hemp as a Schedule I narcotic. This legislation
defines hemp as all parts of the plant less than 0.3% THC, including
derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids. Hemp is now deemed an
agricultural commodity and is no longer classified as a controlled
substance. It is important for the public to understand that hemp is not legal to grow or process in Alabama until a plan is developed and approved by the United States Secretary of Agriculture. USDA
will require participating states to include information on applicants,
testing procedures, inspection of growing/processing facilities and
disposal procedures. The
Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) will work in
consultation with the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office
and law enforcement agencies to create a plan of action regarding
statewide regulation. Upon approval from USDA, ADAI will administer
permits for growing and processing. “I
am happy that hemp production was addressed at the federal level,” said
Commissioner John McMillan. “In 2016 we were tasked with administering
the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program Act by the state
legislature. The process has been complicated, but with the Farm Bill
amendment we can move forward with a more unified plan.” The
previously approved Alabama Industrial Hemp Research Program Act rules
will be reviewed and amended to comply with the requirements of the new
USDA AMS has released the following statement regarding the USDA Hemp Production Program:
- State or Indian tribal nations do not need to submit plans for approval until regulations are in place; however, should a state submit a plan, USDA will hold that submission until regulations have been promulgated.
- USDA is also required to establish a plan to monitor and regulate the production of hemp in those States or Indian tribes that do not have an approved State or Tribal plan. It is USDA’s intention to issue regulations in the Fall of 2019 to accommodate the 2020 planting season.
- For the 2019 planting season, the 2018 Farm Bill provides that States, Tribes, and institutions of higher education can continue operating under authorities of the 2014 Farm Bill.
- A Farm Bill listening session on industrial hemp production will occur on March 13, 2019.