The 2020 growing season promises to be challenging for not only hemp growers in the United States, but also for the state and Tribal agencies overseeing hemp production. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Schedule 1 Controlled Substance list and provided national guidance for the production of hemp in the United States. The specifics for hemp production in the United States were released by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Domestic Hemp Production Program rule on October 31, 2019. In general, the regulations released by USDA in their rule are more stringent than current state regulations growers have been operating under. The end result is all states and Tribal entities will be utilizing similar hemp production regulations. This not only allows for unfettered interstate transportation of raw hemp (some restrictions), but also creates an equal ‘playing field’ for all hemp growers with respect to meeting similar requirements including THC levels.
The recent 2018 Farm Bill language ultimately requires states and Tribal entities that have legalized hemp production to adopt USDA’s federal hemp regulations through a USDA approval process prior to November 1, 2020. Hemp growers, in states that have legalized hemp but have not adopted a USDA approved hemp regulatory plan by November 1, 2020, may request a hemp grower license directly from USDA.
New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s (NMDA) current intention is to work with the hemp industry on a regulatory plan for approval by USDA. For the majority of 2020 growing season, NMDA will be accepting applications and issuing both Annual and Continuous Hemp Commercial Research Production Licenses under New Mexico’s 2019 rule and polices. Additionally, we expect for the majority of 2020, harvest requirements and laboratory testing will be similar to the 2019 growing season. New Mexico hemp growers must be aware: all regulations for hemp production in the state, including licensing requirements, sampling, testing, and destruction of non-compliant crops/plants are subject to change during the latter part of the 2020 growing season. In anticipation of a transition to the new USDA standards, we encourage you to read over USDA’s general comments regarding the regulations and the rule requirements.
Updated: December 20, 2019