The Oregon Department of Agriculture (DOA) sent the Secretary of the USDA a letter asking the federal regulator to provide guidance to the hemp industry that would allow the transport of hemp across state lines. Oregon emphasized that interstate commerce is critical for the hemp industry. Oregon’s hemp industry has grown tremendously from 105 acres of hemp grown in 2015 to over 20,000 acres in March of 2019.
There have been reports in recent weeks of state authorities bringing criminal charges against persons who are transporting hemp and cbd oil across state lines. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, a person who is convicted of a felony related to a controlled substance under Federal or State law could lose the ability to obtain a hemp license for 10 years. Persons in the cannabis industry would also be required to report the incident to current and future regulators, which could impact the ability to obtain or retain other licenses. This is a significant risk as some states have yet to remove hemp from the Schedule 1 classification.
Unless the USDA acts, relief from this predicament may not arrive until the 2020 growing season. Oregon notes that the 2018 Farm Bill allows interstate commerce once the USDA has received and approved a state’s hemp growing plan. The USDA announced that it will approve the state’s growing plans in time for the 2020 growing season. Until that time, states must rely on the prior 2014 U.S. Farm Bill, which does not permit interstate hemp transport. USDA guidance is needed to provide the market with the certainty that it needs to grow, and compete with international players.