Ian Stewart (Partner-Los Angeles), Justin Dobek (Associate-Chicago) and Ruben Espinosa (Associate-New York) collaborated on an article titled "Hemp Regulations Create Compliance Challenges" that appeared in the March/April 2020 edition of Claims magazine. The authors noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has completed a 60-day public comment period on the interim final rule for its U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, and will publish finalized rules within two years. USDA is now in the process of authorizing state plans for commercial hemp production. Although hemp also may be cultivated pursuant to authority granted by the 2014 Farm Bill, that authority sunsets on October 31, 2020. While the initial reaction to the interim rules has been generally negative, the public comments may result in the loosening of some of the regulations. Many are concerned with the USDA's definition of the 0.3% THC limit for legal hemp and restrictive testing methodologies under a new federal testing standard. In summary, the authors observe: "The USDA readily admits that testing for THC concentration is susceptible to error, which is currently managed under the proposed regulations by a margin of error allowance. The individual states should work with the USDA during the public comment period to determine what acceptable testing and sampling procedures should be implemented in the final interim rule."
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