USDA, DEA Provide Options For Labs, Disposal Of Non-Compliant Hemp Plants

usda-logoDISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the delay of enforcement of certain requirements under the interim final rule (IFR) establishing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.

Under the new guidance, USDA will delay enforcement of the requirement for labs to be registered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the requirement that producers use a DEA-registered reverse distributor or law enforcement to dispose of non-compliant plants under certain circumstances. Enforcement will be delayed starting this crop year and until Oct. 31, 2021, or the final rule is published, whichever comes first.

“Because currently there isn’t sufficient capacity in the United States for the testing and disposal of non-compliant hemp plants, USDA has worked hard to enable flexibility in the requirements in the Interim Final Rule for those issues,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach.

Laboratory Testing

Laboratory testing for the purposes of determining compliance under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program can be conducted by labs that are not yet registered with DEA. The laboratories must still meet all the other requirements in the IFR.

All laboratories engaged in the testing of hemp through this interim period will be subject to the same compliance requirements of the IFR. Specifically, labs must adhere to the standards of performance as outlined within the IFR, including the requirement to test for total THC employing post-decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods. All labs will have to make arrangements to be compliant with registration requirements before this period of delayed enforcement expires. DEA will evaluate all applications using the criteria required by the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 823(f)).

Disposal

Based on feedback from states and tribes, and in consultation with DEA, USDA has identified additional options for the disposal of “hot” hemp plants. Some of these new options include, but are not limited to, plowing under non-compliant plants or composting into “green manure” for use on the same land. The new methods are intended to allow producers to apply common on-farm practices for the destruction of non-compliant plants.

Hemp that tests greater than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis must be disposed of onsite according to the disposal methods approved by USDA. The state, tribe or the state’s department of agriculture will be responsible for establishing protocols and procedures to ensure non-compliant hemp is appropriately destroyed or remediated in compliance with applicable state, tribal and federal law.

A list of allowed disposal techniques and descriptions is available on the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program web page.

“One of the top considerations in making these changes was the desire to provide additional options that minimize, to the extent possible, the resource impact to state and local law enforcement in handling hemp that is out of compliance,” said Under Secretary Ibach.

“We look forward to partnering with producers, states, tribes and other stakeholders to deliver regulations that work for everyone,” said Under Secretary Ibach.