Although the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation from coast to coast, the glaring absence of regulations created what seems like the wild west of CBD and hemp production. For the last three years, gray areas and lack of guidance left hemp cultivators up to their own devices to produce goods for the masses to consume.
But, just recently the U.S. Department Of Agriculture (USDA) published their final ruling for the domestic production of growing hemp. So what does that mean for local North Carolina hemp farmers and consumers alike? Keep reading for all the top facts and biggest changes you need to know.
The Latest Movement for Legal Hemp
A work in progress for over two years, the USDA has finally established a regulatory framework for hemp production on a national level. The initial form of this recent ruling was first introduced in 2019 as an ‘interim final rule’. Since then the language has undergone modifications and revisions based upon the 2020 production year, and concerns raised during public comments sessions with US farmers.
Of course, the USDA rules only serve as a guideline to better unify a national standard when it comes to state programs. In fact, many states are currently working with the USDA directly to approve their own individual hemp farming programs for industrial use. From the original 2018 Farm Bill, states were given the permission to create their own programs that would be subject to USDA approval. If a state already has an approved program through the USDA, the new ruling does not affect it whatsoever.
The most important changes to note in the latest final ruling include –
- Raises the THC negligence threshold from 0.5 percent to 1 percent THC. That means any crop testing over 0.3% THC isn’t punishable by the DEA unless it’s over 1% THC.
- Limits the number of negligent violations that a producer can receive in any particular growing season to a maximum of one.
- Continues to maintain the requirement that DEA-registered laboratories must test all hemp produced in 2020 and possibly 2021.
- Provides Native American tribes the permission to legally create their own hemp programs. This was a previous area of contention, as tribal lands weren’t explicitly expressed or designated as states under the law.
How Changes Affect North Carolina Hemp
So, what does the latest movement from the USDA mean for North Carolina hemp laws? It means starting January 1st, 2022 the state will fall under the federal ruling and guidelines for compliance while producing industrial hemp. This wraps up the conclusion of North Carolina’s pilot program, and soon hemp producers will be receiving their official licenses for hemp cultivation and production from the USDA.
In the meantime, North Carolina hemp licenses in need of renewal will be temporarily extended from September – January 1st, 2022 to continue operations legally. Since September, nearly 1,500 licensed hemp producers have received letters notifying them of the change. For any new cultivators, here’s a summary of what to expect of the new USDA licensing soon to be required for growing hemp in North Carolina –
- You’ll need to submit a plan for licensing and authorization to the USDA.
- No licenses are granted to persons who have been convicted of a controlled substance felony in the last 10 years.
- Will now be subject to the USDA Crop Acreage Reporting Guidelines and EPA registered pesticides for hemp.
Amongst other various compliance measurements as set by the USDA for hemp production.
The Future of Growing Hemp in North Carolina
So, what can current or future North Carolina hemp farmers do to ensure they’re remaining compliant with the new ruling? Now more than ever, the importance of hemp consulting groups comes into play. State and local hemp consultants can be highly beneficial for keeping up with the latest North Carolina hemp news and implementing internal systems, or SOPs to remain in compliance.
When growing hemp in North Carolina, not only will you have to adhere to USDA governing regulations, but local and state zoning and laws. So, it’s important to know what you’re doing when navigating each individual jurisdiction. This is an area of expertise where hemp consulting services like those offered by Longleaf Provisions Company can also help.
All in all, don’t let the federal takeover of North Carolina hemp licenses steer you away from cultivation in the state. Hemp and cannabis are on the up-and-up as some of the fastest-growing crops in the US. In fact, just this week Leafly’s ‘Cannabis Harvest Report’ values the crop as 5th in the nation after Corn, Soybeans, Hay, and Wheat.
With talks for a medical marijuana program in North Carolina and federal cannabis legalization on the horizon – the future has never been brighter for cultivating hemp and cannabis. So look towards Longleaf for long-term growth in the hemp industry, now. Our hemp consulting group has the experience it takes to develop and operate indoor and outdoor cultivation facilities for exponential growth and profits.
To join the hemp movement, or to transition your current license and business for federal success – get in touch with our North Carolina hemp company consulting experts, now.