Under the 2018 Farm Bill hemp with below .03% THC content is now legal across the United States. However, due to lagging regulation by the US government, many states have only just begun allowing for more widespread hemp farming and some states are still working with the interim hemp rules. In Oregon, hemp has been growing strong since 2015. Recently, on a state and federal level, hemp has seen a big rise in handler, grower, and processor regulations stemming from the 2018 Farm Bill–and that has some Oregon hemp growers worried.
Many Oregon hemp farmers now have over 5 years in the biz. This means they are just starting to have their processes down and likely are starting to have their profits dialed in. The federal government stepping in on a larger-scale could mean changes to their already established practices and a drip in profits. Especially in regards to the federal government’ plan to test for THC and strictly enforce the results. Federal regulations say the CBD hemp must be 0.3% or less and anything above that is not only considered illegal cannabis but under federal law must also be destroyed. Hemp is a fickle crop and everything from sunlight to moisture could affect the THC to CBD ratio–especially the harvest window. This could lead to plants being destroyed that don’t need to be or that are only slightly above the somewhat arbitrary .03% limit. This could have a devastating effect on Oregon hemp farmer’s profits. There is also the issue of federal testing–USDA sites are being recommended for this but the government lacks the infrastructure from state to state to do amply testing. This could lead to serious backups in the supply chain or a farm’s ability to process their fields in a timely manner.
Under the 2018 states must write their own plans for hemp farming and enforcement. However, these plans must be approved by the USDA. This means Oregon may have to write a plan in accordance with Federal Law. If they write one that does not align with federal it very well may need to be reworked after final rules are written.