The endless restrictions imposed by the 2018 Farm Bill have limited the growth of the industrial hemp sector. This shows a glaring need for amendments, where the Hemp Advancement Act of 2022 comes in. This measure will eliminate major constrictions in the farm bill that have made it highly unlikely to thrive.
Hemp production was approved in the United States through the Farm Bill. Being the first of its kind, the federal initiative makes so many regulatory demands that it makes it impossible for legal operators to compete with the illegal growers. The central issue in the bill, which growers and processors cannot seem to wrap their minds around, is the THC thresholds. The 2018 Farm Bill demands that all hemp products contain less than 0.3% THC. This has been very difficult to achieve, with growers describing the provision as “unbearable.”
The Hemp Advancement Act of 2022
This bill is a legislative amendment that would fix some of the problems in the current hemp laws. The bill might increase the threshold for THC in hemp products to one percent, which is more than reasonable.
In the past, some farms and processing plants have been ruined by this existing threshold due to some hiccups that made them unable to produce plants with less than 0.3% THC. In this case, some of these firms proceed to destroy the crops, especially in non-legal states, while a few get encouraged to sell them off in the black market to make a profit.
The new bill, the Hemp Advancement Act of 2022, was introduced on Tuesday, February 8, by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. She clarified that the objective of this proposed measure is to improve the provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill and increase the flexibility of hemp growers and processors when producing these products. She added that these amendments would provide greater clarity to the existing laws.
Pingree explained that the 2018 Farm Bill laid the foundation for the legal hemp industry in the U.S. but, in the process, created extremely confusing policies and difficulties for growers and small-scale operators. She further explained that her newly introduced bill could remove non-feasible and unreasonable testing requirements demanded by the farm bill without compromising the safety of consumers. She added that a one-percent THC level is a feasible threshold for hemp products. Another necessary provision in the new bill is to create equality in the industry. Persons of color, whites, convicted, and unconvicted cannabis offenders will have equal rights to cultivate legal weed.
The congresswoman also pointed out that her bill is a straightforward, non-complicated strategy to solve the complex problems encountered while implementing hemp laws. With the hemp amendment act, the United States hemp industry could be more profitable and accessible to all. She said her bill is better equipped to support the growth potential of the country’s hemp economy while making a clear path forward for its operators at the same time.
Major Provisions In The Amendment Bill
During the bill’s introduction, Pingree emphasized three potential corrections to the Farm Bill that the new 2022 bill would make.
The first fix is raising the acceptable level of THC for hemp flowers and extracts to make the industry more bearable for hemp producers. The proposed threshold will be suitable enough to allow the growers and processors to flawlessly execute their operations while making sure that the released products dispensed in the markets are not psychoactive or intoxicating.
The second fix is to eliminate the provision stating that all hemp tests must be done at laboratories licensed by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This provision has been a significant challenge for hemp producers in Maine, as none of the testing facilities in the area are approved by the DEA.
The third fix is to bring an end to the ban issued on people with cannabis or drug-related felonies. The 2018 farm bill says that Americans who have served drug-related sentences or convictions must be banned from applying for grower or processor licenses for ten years. Seeing that most of these excluded individuals are either blacks or Hispanics, the provision indirectly excludes communities of color from the budding market.
Several hemp organizations have read through the Hemp Advancement Act of 2022 and have offered their support to Congresswoman Pingree to see to it that the bill is approved. One of these notable companies in the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. This organization represents several significant grassroots agencies in the U.S. hemp scene.
According to U.S. Hemp Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller, the 2018 Farm Bill, though appreciated, needs several modifications as the current bill comes with unresolvable challenges. He commended the USDA’s commitment to attending to farmers’ concerns and issues on time. Still, he said that the current Farm Bill needs to be amended to eliminate significant burdens on cannabis producers across the country.
The Future of the Hemp Industry
The progress of the hemp sector depends on how fast these proposed bills or a similar amendment can be approved. The hemp industry is one of the few industries that face high risks due to excessive regulations and mandatory demands by the governing agencies.
Miller stressed that it is so unfair that cannabis farmers could be forced to burn down entire or major parts of their crops just because they contain more than 0.3% THC. If this continues, hundreds of farmers will quit the industry or move to illegal markets to prevent loss. All this could be resolved with a slight modification to the THC threshold and more.
The Hemp Amendment Act of 2022 is very vital to the progress of the industry. Congresswoman Pingree is extremely pained about the matter because hemp production in her home state of Maine is at a standstill. Her newly introduced bill could put the federal hemp industry on the progressive track to the top.
Remember that hemp is a legal crop that could serve as a raw material for the textile, fuel, food, and medicinal sectors. The only way to fully harness its potential is to give growers and processors more freedom to grow these plants through the Hemp Amendment Act of 2022.