Kentucky Senator Rand Paul recently filed a bill that, if passed, would raise the amount of THC that could legally be in a hemp crop and address other industry concerns. He filed this bill just days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) final rule for hemp production took effect on March 22.
This bill, called the Hemp Economic Mobilization Plan (HEMP) Act is similar to legislation that he sponsored last December, near the end of the last congressional session. That bill was also called the HEMP Act, but it was never acted on. Hopefully, the new bill will achieve better results.
“For years, I’ve led the fight in Washington to restore one of Kentucky’s most historically vital crops by legalizing industrial hemp,” Paul said in a press release. “We achieved a hard-won victory, but there is still work to do to prevent the federal government from weighing down our farmers with unnecessary bureaucratic micromanaging. My legislation will help this growing industry reach its full economic potential, and I am proud the bill has strong support all the way from local Kentucky farmers and activists to national groups."
The HEMP Act proposes four important changes
Hemp has been legally defined as cannabis that contains 0.3% THC or less since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the crop. However, many industry leaders have reportedly been vocal about the problems associated with this seemingly arbitrary limit. Many in the industry reportedly believe that this limit is set too low, a criticism that the HEMP Act aims to correct.
If passed, the HEMP Act would increase that limit from 0.3% to 1% THC, an action that requires changing the definition itself.
In addition to this change, the HEMP Act proposes testing the final hemp products for THC content instead of the crop’s flower, setting documentation requirements for people transporting hemp and creating a margin of error for THC testing.
Taking steps to protect industry professionals
These changes would address common issues in the hemp industry. Raising the THC concentration limit, testing the final product instead of the flower and creating a margin of error for testing would each help limit the risk that farmers take when growing this crop.
“The THC content of hemp plants is significantly impacted by environmental factors, which farmers cannot control,” states a bill summary released by Paul’s office. “Alternatively, hemp processors have greater control over the THC content in their products. Providing a statutory fix to this problem, by testing the final hemp-derived product rather than the hemp flower or plant itself, would ease the burden on farmers.”
Setting documentation requirements for people transporting hemp would help prevent shipments from being seized by law enforcement officers who do not realize or believe that it is a legal crop. The most recent version of the HEMP Act reportedly expands on the type of documentation that could prove the legality of a crop.
The 2020 version of the bill would have required the person transporting the hemp to carry a certificate from a lab that proves that the hemp contains a legal amount of THC. However, the 2021 version of the bill would allow the person transporting the hemp to carry a copy of the hemp producer’s license instead. According to the bill summary, this measure would “protect legitimate hemp farmers, processors, and transporters,” while also allowing “law enforcement to quickly determine the producer is legitimate or that the hemp has already been laboratory certified as compliant with law.”
“We . . . are thankful for the Senator’s recognition of the importance of defining hemp in transit. We appreciate his willingness to engage with us and listen to our industry,” said Patrick Atagi in a press release. Atagi is the Chairman of the National Industrial Hemp Council.
“If passed, the HEMP Act will help with the overall economy and providing jobs to Americans,” he added.
“We are so excited to hear about Senator Paul’s H.E.M.P. Act, which will help farmers, processors and retailers in our young hemp industry,” said Kentucky Hemp Association President Tate Hall and Vice President Jana Groda in a press release. “We believe that loosening up some important interstate business requirements are a much-needed step toward more prosperous times in the hemp economy.”