By Ben Husch
Representative Jeni Arndt (D-Colo.), co-chair of NCSL's Agriculture Task Force, took part in a panel discussion Wednesday on the challenges and opportunities facing the hemp industry at the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Foster our Future meeting this week in Washington, D.C.
The panel focused on a plethora of issues the young industry is up against, following the legalization of hemp as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.
NCSL strongly advocated for Congress to include such language in the Farm Bill, following the adoption of an amendment to NCSL’s National Agriculture policy directive at the 2017 Legislative Summit in Boston.
Specifically, the panel discussed how to manage and expand the many different markets for hemp, including seed, fiber and, of course, CBD. They also spoke on the challenges that hemp presents to law enforcement and growers because marijuana is still a Schedule I drug according to the federal government.
Arndt joined staff from NCSL’s Washington, D.C., office to highlight these subjects to key members of Congress. Also discussed were issues states are facing in implementing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules on hemp.
Less than four months ago, the USDA published the first formal rules for growing hemp since its legalization and already several states have highlighted key concerns including testing sampling requirements, access to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) labs, and the potential for non-destructive uses of hemp that come in above the legal THC limit.
The answer to these challenges will determine the success of hemp as we head into the 2020 growing season.
Ben Husch is federal affairs counsel to NCSL's National Resources and Infrastructure Committee.