Maine Governor Calls On USDA To Finalize Industrial Hemp Rules

Ever since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December, there has been a surge of interest in hemp and its non-psychoactive derivative cannabidiol (CBD) across the United States.

But among all of the buzz surrounding the versatile and potentially-lucrative crop, there has also been confusion due to the lack of federal regulations to help guide states in their policy-making process for industrial hemp production.

While the 2018 Farm Bill instructs the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue regulations and guidance for industrial hemp production in the United States, no rules have been finalized or implemented as of yet.

On Tuesday, October 22, Maine Governor Janet Mills and Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal penned a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging him to finalize rules that outline state guidance for industrial hemp implementation plans.

Noting that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) began reviewing rulemaking for industrial hemp on June 27, Mills and Beal write that states such as Maine cannot move forward with guidance for growers until guidelines are in place and that farmers are unfairly restricted to 2014 Farm Bill rules in the meantime.

“Most recently, it has come to our attention that growers in Maine are receiving notices of bank account closures and insurance policies not being renewed because of uncertainty around federal hemp regulations,” states the letter. “These are troubling developments that stifle the growth and aspirations of hardworking farm businesses.”

In light of the accelerated growth of hemp production in Maine and other states, and the confusion around federal laws, Mills and Beal urge Perdue to work with the OMB to finalize USDA guidance for state implementation plans.