Hello WA Hemp Supporters!
Governor Inslee signed WA Hemp bill SB 5276 into law on, April 26, 2019! This is a bill we hijacked and substituted with the language from HB 1401 that we worked on for over a year. Now we have to follow USDA Interim Rules for Hemp which does not match the New Hemp Program legislation. Our program is not inline with the USDA. We are working with the Association of Hemp Professional on the Federal level trying to change what we can before final USDA rules go into effect. The USDA comment period has been extended to January 29, 2020. In the mean time in Washington, unless we get the IHRP reinstated in the coming legislative session we will be stuck with a 15 day pre harvest test of only the top 1/3 of the plant.
We are considering points raised by hemp researchers, cultivators and regulators. There are a few issues with the Interim Final Rule (IFR) which deserve careful attention from the United States Department of Agriculture. As it stands, the IFR presents undue burdens on farmers and regulators alike. Below are key areas of concern and concise, prudent solutions that we believe to be well-aligned with the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, of which the sole intention was to create a thriving American hemp economy.
The most pervasive concerns heard from across nearly all phases of the hemp cultivation industry surround the fifteen day period for pre harvest compliance testing. Additionally, there are warranted concerns regarding what constitutes a significant “representative” sample when assessing compliance.
Under the Washington Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Pilot program, it was determined that the sample evaluation and analysis found that in a statistically significant number of “representative” samples that approximately 25-30% was flower and 70-75% was stem, leaf and stalk. Sampling from the top third of the plant is not representative of the whole plant and selecting only from the flowering and leaf material of the hemp plant is also not representative. The hemp grown in Washington this year was mainly for biomass.
Solution: A whole plant homogenized representative sample of 25-30% flower and 70-75% with stem, leaf and stalk.
USDA must understand that fifteen days is restrictive. In a perfect scenario, to sample material from every lot from a field, prepare said material to the degree that the sample can be tested on a dry weight basis, conduct compliance testing and release results will require more than fifteen days. Our state’s Hemp Legislation included a postharvest test for the 2020 season with a whole plant homogenized representative sample. Under the 2019 IHRP, we had a 30 day preharvest with a whole plant homogenized representative sample which proved a more reasonable time frame.
Solution: To accurately ensure compliance with the 0.3% THC testing requirement, a postharvest test is most appropriate. However a secondary choice is to simply extend the fifteen day sampling period to thirty days using a whole plant homogenized representative sample. This gives hemp growers a more reasonable amount of time to plan for harvest according to compliance test results. States should have the option to choose between a pre or post harvest test.
The 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law on December 20, 2018 legalizing Hemp in all 50 states! Now there is much work to do in Washington State to bring us in line with the Farm Bill regarding hemp. Legislation has to be passed in the next session beginning mid January to change our state language to open up farming and the supply chain. It will be at least 6 months before the new hemp program will be in affect and new licenses are available. Hemp field GPS coordinates and THC results are mandatory under the 2018 Farm Bill.
The WSDA must submit a proposal to the USDA for approval of our new program. It will be at least 6 months before the new hemp program will be in affect and licenses available. There is a chance the time frame for state laws to change may be after the 2019 planting season begins. Washington's Hemp Research Pilot Program will expire January 1, 2020. The current program rules and regulations will be in effect until state law is implemented and new rules and regulations written and signed off on. There will most likely be a Grandfather Clause for IHRP licensees to move over to the New Program rules and regulations.
A WSDA request for hemp funding was not included in the Governor's budget but is going to be put in this coming legislative session in another form. There are back up plans. I will let you know more on funding and other new hemp program specifics when I have details. Stay Tuned for updates on developments.
Washington State's Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program is accepting applications. New stream lined applications are now available and are much less complicated and less information is required. Contact us with questions and assistance filling out your program application to acquire a license to grow Industrial Hemp in WA.
Promoting the research and development of Industrial Hemp as an agricultural crop in Washington State as a viable and sustainable ultimate renewable natural resource through the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program. Supporting and educating pioneers in the field while advocating legislation on their behalves. Members share research and resources as growers, seed and equipment suppliers, food and building material processors, organizations and those who dare to reinvent the wheel to fit into our industry. We are building a sustainable re-emerging industry together. We are here to answer when asked, What is Industrial Hemp and what is it used for?, How do I get a License to grown hemp in WA? How do you grow Industrial Hemp?
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