Kentucky Ag Commissioner Objects to New USDA Hemp Rules

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner has sent a letter to the USDA outlining his objections to the body’s new ‘Statement of Principles’ regarding the industrial hemp sector, local NPR station WKMS reports. He says the new rules contradict the original intent of the 2014 measure passed by Congress and “could hinder industrial hemp’s economic potential” in the state which currently incorporates more than 2,000 acres of the plant.

The 2014 Farm Bill did not remove hemp from the controlled substances list, but it allows states to grow hemp for research purposes. Kentucky launched its pilot program that year.

Ryan Quarles said the rules set forth by the feds name only “fiber and seed” as the economically viable parts of the plant, and permits their use only for industrial applications. Quarles argues that the ‘industrial application’ provision would not allow hemp to be used as a food or drug ingredient or for artistic purposes. He says that more than half of Kentucky’s hemp is used to harvest CBD, which is often used in medical applications, and comes from neither the fiber nor seed.

Another section, Quarles says, broadens the definition for measuring THC and omits the ‘delta-9’ qualifier from the definition which could render “most if not all” of the industrial hemp crops in the pilot program ineligible for study because all hemp has some THC. Under USDA regulations, plants must contain less than 0.3 percent THC to be considered hemp. He says the change could create confusion for farmers and processors if it is not rewritten.  

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