The United States Department of Agriculture has released guidance allowing hemp seeds to be imported from outside of the U.S. as long as the seeds include documentation that the strains will produce plants below the 0.3 percent THC threshold.
Seeds must include phytosanitary certificates from government plant protection agencies that confirm their origin and that no plant pests are detected. The agency notes that, while the Drug Enforcement Agency no longer has the authority to require hemp seed permits for import purposes, the shipments would be subject to inspection at ports of entry by Customs and Border Patrol.
“The [USDA] regulates the importation of all seeds for planting to ensure safe agricultural trade. Under this authority, USDA is providing an alternative way for the safe importation of hemp seeds into the United States.” — April 18 USDA “Importation of Hemp Seeds” guidance.
The guidance is the first action by the USDA related to hemp, which was removed from the Controlled Substances Act last December as part of the 2018 farm bill. The measure requires states to submit their hemp industry plans to the USDA for review before they can be implemented. The agency is responsible for developing federal rules but those rules are not expected until later this year.
Since the bill’s passage, several states have moved on, or approved, legislation to either align their state hemp cultivation rules with those outlined in the federal legislation or legalize hemp production. Currently, just seven states still have laws in place outlawing hemp production.
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