Federal hemp rules delayed

VERMONT AGENCY OF Agriculture hemp program chief Timothy Schmalz, left, Vermont Hemp Company CEO Joel Bedard and local farmer Sam Berthiaume stand in a field of hemp being grown in Middlebury by Berthiaume and his cousin Joel Pomainville in 2017.
 Independent file photo/Trent Campbell

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Federal hemp regulations that were scheduled to go into effect at the end of this month have been delayed for a year, according to the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The hemp rules, which were written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would have set the THC limit for industrial hemp at only 0.3%, which is vastly more restrictive than Vermont current regulations, which set the limit at 1%.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive substance in recreational and medicinal marijuana plants; in occurs naturally in trace amounts in industrial hemp plants.

Leahy’s office called the federal regulations “difficult, if not impossible, for producers to fully meet. This would have dealt a severe blow to Vermont’s most promising new specialty crop.”

A provision for delaying implementation of the rules was added to a federal appropriations bill, with support from Leahy, who is vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The postponement will “give hemp farmers the certainty of planning for the next growing season under the existing Vermont regulations, while policymakers have more work to do in correcting the problems with the USDA regulation,” Leahy’s office said.

— Christopher Ross

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Addison County Independent