Maryland Hemp Plan Approved by USDA

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As first reported by Marijuana Moment, the United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week that it had approved Maryland’s hemp regulatory plan. As The Outlaw Report first reported last month, the July 6 edition of the Maryland Register included the proposal for the farming program by the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) which was the first time regulatory framework regarding hemp was made public.

Public comment on Maryland’s regulatory framework closed on August 5 but on July 31, MDA secretary Joseph Bartenfelder submitted the plan for approval to USDA secretary Sonny Perdue. On August 6, the USDA’s website announced, “the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the approval of hemp production plans under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program for Maryland and the Lower Sioux Indian Community, bringing the total number of approved plans to 55.” Last month, the USDA approved hemp plans for Minnesota, Tennessee, and Puerto Rico.

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the federal list of controlled substances and defined it as any part of the plant with the botanical name Cannabis Sativa (the same name as cannabis) that contains 0.3% of THC or less, which separates it from cannabis as we commonly understand which has significantly more THC. Many states have moved forward with their own hemp programs thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill but Maryland has until now operated under the framework of the 2014 Farm Bill which allowed hemp to be grown for research purposes—part of its Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. The pending deadline for Maryland’s Hemp Program was October 31, 2020 deadline although the state could still have their production plans approved after that date, if a state was regulating hemp pursuant to the 2014 Farm Bill. 

According to the Maryland Hemp Plan, Maryland hemp farmers are subject to a yearly $500 license fee and an annual $50 application fee, as well as a $250 testing fee that is applied when the MDA samples and tests a farmer’s hemp for THC. Back in July, the MDA’s proposal explored the potential income generated by these fees. “For illustrative purposes only, if 100-150 persons apply for licensure and are, in fact, issued a license, special fund revenues would total $55,000-$80,000,” the proposal read. “And if samples are tested for THC, special fund revenues would increase an additional $125,000.” One can apply for a license at any time during the year and if approved, that license is valid through the end of that year (December 31). To renew the license each year, one must have it submitted by December 1.

Additionally, the plan includes information on how the MDA would provide information to the USDA about those licensed to produce hemp in the state (including a monthly report due to the USDA for all licensed growers), the regulations to guarantee that sampling and testing is effective, and the process for a grower to dispose of hemp that has more THC than is acceptable.

The Maryland Hemp plan can be read in full here

Photo illustration by Kathy Wyche

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