Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner is urging the federal government to reconsider its latest set of regulations and guidelines regarding industrial hemp. This past month, Ryan Quarles stated he would be examining the U.S, Department of Agriculture’s ‘Statement of Principles’ to better understand how it relates to Kentucky’s own pilot hemp research program.

A stipulation in the 2014 Farm Bill authorized states to produce hemp for research purposes even though they did not remove the marijuana-related plant from the controlled substances list, which gives federal agencies authority over restrictions. In a letter that was recently sent to the USDA, by Ryan Quarles said he now has several problems in that several aspects of the principles contradict Congress’ original intent and “could hinder industrial hemp’s economic potential” in Kentucky.

Quarles states the new rules name the only economically beneficial parts of the hemp plant as the “fiber and seed” to only be utilized for industrial purposes. Quarles says that more than half of Kentucky’s hemp acreage harvests cannabidiol – a hemp oil that does not come from either the fiber nor seed, and that the ‘industrial application’ provision would also mean hemp could not be used in a drug, as a food ingredient or for artistic purposes.

He says another apparent broadening of a definition for measuring ‘delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol’ – better known THC – could cause confusion amongst farmers and processors about the plant’s intended uses and permitted THC levels. The USDA’s statement omits the portion ‘delta-9’ from the tetrahydrocannabinol definition, which Quarles says could potentially “render most, if not all, variants of industrial hemp ineligible for study in research pilot programs.”

He also takes issue with the USDA’s declaration that hemp seeds and plants may not be moved across state lines, however Congress forbids federal funds being utilized on such enforcement in the 2014 Farm Bill.


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