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Mass. gets a green light from feds on hemp plan

States across America have drafted their own plans for the cultivation of industrial hemp, and the federal government has slowly approved of more and more of these over time.

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Most recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the state of Massachusetts’ hemp-growing plans.


Florida, Kansas and Georgia are states that previously received federal approval for their specific growing plans.


Considering industrial hemp was legalized in 2018, it may strike some as surprising that states need to receive further affirmation from the USDA to start planting.


Of course, some planters already began to harvest the crop used for CBD across the U.S. without the USDA in 2019, as is consonant with other bottom-up changes in cannabis legalization.


However, the USDA and other federal agencies have made clear that they want more clarity about the active marijuana-ingredient THC contents within industrial hemp harvests.


THC levels are hard-capped at 0.3% per hemp crop, and these levels have caused major rifts among hemp farmers who are divided about whether accurate testing and hedging against “hot” hemp crops are even possible.


According to reporting from Marijuana Moment for the Boston Globe, the USDA has recently dropped two executive provisions from industrial hemp law. [1]


These policies, the testing and disposal measures associated with industrial hemp, are the only things within the USDA’s purview for revision, according to the Boston Globe.


“While it’s understood that this new commodity will likely produce some servicing challenges because of State and Federal regulations, it should be treated as closely as possible to any other agricultural commodity and serviced in the same manner,” a recent USDA memorandum said, according to the Boston Globe. [1]


According to MassLive, some hope the moves at the federal level are a step forward for the possibility of marijuana delivery services in the state. Still, others are more hesitant.


“I know it’s not a popular thought to have. I’ll probably get a lot of criticism for it,” Massachusetts Cannabis Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan told MassLive. “But I really think that we need to at the same time balance the health needs.” [2]


It is only after state legalization that legislatures or regulatory workers can develop agricultural plans and share them with the USDA for approval, and in the case of Georgia this is the process that required some ironing. [3]

“Georgia has the ability to be a significant player in the country, particularly given our climate,” Kevin Quirk of Harvest Connect in Roswell told the Boston Globe. “People say they're not sure how it's going to grow in the red clay. Guess what, it's growing really well in [University of Georgia] tests.” [3]


Sources


[1] https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/05/08/marijuana/usda-approves-hemp-plan-massachusetts/


[2] https://www.masslive.com/marijuana/2020/05/massachusetts-marijuana-delivery-license-applications-on-track-to-launch-in-may-reserved-for-economic-empowerment-and-social-equity-applicants.html

[3] https://www.nothingbuthemp.net/post/georgia-receives-usda-approval-for-hemp-growing

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