Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) has introduced federal legislation to address issues in the US hemp industry. Named the Hemp Economic Mobilization Plan (HEMP) Act, the legislation has four objectives, according to a Forbes report.
The HEMP Act would raise hemp’s allowable THC levels from 0.3% to 1%; require hemp-derived products to be tested post-production, rather than testing flower or plant material; and create a seed certificate to verify with law enforcement the authenticity of hemp products to assure smooth transport across the country — a “margin of error” is defined in hemp testing.
Tom Lauerman, aka Farmer Tom — an Oregon hemp farmer and Washington state licensed cannabis producer — says the HEMP Act would help US farmers.
“This bill gives hope to many farmers whose lives have been turned upside down by short-sighted laws that have made it next to impossible for US hemp farmers to compete in the world hemp marketplace.” — Farmer Tom, in a statement to Ganjapreneur
Cannabis industry attorney Robert Hoban, however, believes that while the HEMP Act is a welcome nod in the Senate to the industry’s success, changing the 0.3% threshold could create more problems than it fixes.
“We’re making great strides with cannabis reform around the world and especially in the United States,” Hoban told Forbes. “There’s a lot of promise with the recent passage of the MORE Act in the House of Representatives and the momentum coming from that with the new administration taking office in January of 2021. Blurring the lines between marijuana and industrial hemp may exacerbate what’s already a major political divide in the U.S.”
Hoban said raising the hemp THC threshold to 1% could put US farmers at a competitive disadvantage with South American hemp farmers, who already operate under a 1 percent THC regime. “Nations that continue to enact laws above 0.3 percent for these plants, even if they’re not intoxicating or psychoactive, like CBD, would be deemed marijuana derivatives,” he said.
Additionally, Hoban points to the large amount of capital that has gone into producing the extraction equipment and hemp strains that already meet US hemp restrictions.
Farmer Tom, however, says the rewards outweigh the risks.
“If passed, Sen. Rand Paul’s hemp bill will legalize hemp that is currently being sold into the gray market,” he said. “All of the 2020 CBD crop is hot under the current regulations. The Paul hemp bill will take the shackles off and create a fair playing field for US hemp farms.”