Please join us in making a consolidated effort to publicly comment on the USDA interim rule. NC Industrial Hemp Association (NCIHA) has provided recommendations to help with a coordinated public response.
They provide a helpful framework so we can all make powerful, strategic comments. NCIHA is asking its members to address these Areas of Concern:
- Testing sample size
- Harvest window
- DEA registered labs
- Remedial action for growers
Framework for Commenting
provided by NCIHA
IMPORTANT TIPS TO CONSIDER
Start by Establishing “Who You Are”
Are you a third generation NC farmer who sits on the local farm bureau? A new farmer who just purchased a family farm and are hoping to revitalize it with hemp? A lab owner who has been testing hemp for the last few years? Anything and everything that can speak to your ‘creds’ is worth putting right at the beginning of your comment.
Write For Your Audience
The USDA cannot change the Controlled Substances Act, or as many people want to see happen, legalize all cannabis. That’s not under the USDA’s control — that’s the DEA. So federally legalizing all cannabis isn’t the argument that will get any traction in this process. What can get traction with the USDA, right now, is arguing that workable hemp regulations, even ones the narcotic officers over at DEA maybe don’t like so much, helps the USDA meet their own founding documents and their motto of “Do Right and Feed Everyone.”
Are Your Comments Data Driven?
Include data in your comments. Especially data that pertains directly to you and your hemp business. How much is it going to cost you to buy seeds that would not go hot under the current rule? Would your crop this year have not been accepted under the current testing rules and how much of a financial loss would that have meant? How much money did hemp bring to your county this year? Your state?
Educate and Suggest Actionable Solutions
You’ve established you know what you’re talking about, you’ve pointed out why the USDA should listen to you and you’ve backed it up with cold, hard facts. You’ve primed your audience, so to speak. Now’s the time to educate and suggest the solutions you would like to see.
For Example: The NCIHA is recommending everyone address the short harvest window issue. If you are a hemp farmer, don’t say, the ‘15-day window for testing to harvest’ is unreasonable. Say, ‘Our harvest this year took 30 days from start to finish, accommodating inclement weather and equipment delays. It took fifteen days for our tests to come back and we had no control over that. We never would have been able to get harvested in 15 days. We recommend that 30 days should be the minimum harvest…”
4 AREAS OF CONCERN TO ADDRESS
1) The sample testing size using only the top 2 inches of plant is not a true representative sample. A sample of 8-12 inches from the whole plant would generate a more accurate sample because the top of the hemp plant contains the highest concentration of cannabinoids. We believe that a protocol should be established stipulating that samples should be taken from the flowering tops 8-12 inches long.
2) Short harvest window. A 15-day harvest window does not appropriately account for unforeseen delays for all hemp varieties. Weather delays alone may compromise harvest timing and complicate efforts to bring the best quality product to market. This short window creates a major obstacle for growers that would be extremely difficult to overcome. We recommend extending the harvest window to 30-days to account for possible delays and ensure farmers can still be profitable growing hemp for CBD.
3) Testing labs to be DEA registered. Testing is already a major bottleneck. It is imperative that testing be accurate and done within a reasonably efficient turnaround time. Farmers need results quickly so harvest plans can be adjusted to maximize cannabinoids, while not exceeding the THC limits. In North Carolina, we only have one certified DEA testing lab. As an alternative, we recommend certifying labs through third-party testing to the International Organization for Standardization 17025.
4) Remedial actions for growers. If the crop contains THC in excess of the legal limit, provide the ability to work with a licensed processor so a grower’s hard work is not needlessly destroyed. In other words, while farmers may be prohibited from using “hot” hemp for sale to the general public, allow them to deliver biomass under 1% total THC to a licensed processor to ensure that the end product is compliant before it hits the market. The grower can still capture value in the product and THC levels will be monitored through processing to its final, legally compliant form.
SUBMITTING YOUR COMMENTS
There are multiples way to submit your comment. We recommend to “cut and paste” your comment from an existing document OR upload the entire Word Document with your comment by clicking on “Choose files” button under the Upload File(s) section. Since this is a secure page, it will most likely “time out” if you try to slowly re-type your comments in the “Comment” field.
Link to submit your comments:
You have until Jan 29, 2020 to submit a formal comment regarding the USDA’s domestic hemp program interim rule.