Last week, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (“ODA”) submitted a letter of intent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) in which the state agency conveyed its decision to submit a state hemp plan, pursuant to the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“2018 Farm Bill”).
In addition to legalizing the production of hemp by removing the crop from the list of controlled substances, the 2018 Farm Bill delegates to states and Indian tribes the broad authority to regulate and limit the production of hemp and hemp products within their territories. Specifically, Subtitle G of the new Farm Bill sets forth a regulatory scheme by which states and Indian tribes may seek primary regulatory authority over hemp production. To obtain primary regulatory authority, states and Indian tribes must submit a plan to the USDA Secretary for review and approval. However, before the Secretary may review and approve state plans it must promulgate rules and regulations pertaining to these plans.
As such, ODA Director Alexis Taylor expressed to the Secretary her department’s eagerness to receive direction from the USDA regarding requirements for state implementation plans. Specifically, Taylor raised the need for requirements in solving the growing confusion surrounding interstate transportation of hemp. The ODA Director explained that delays in rule making are subjecting Oregon’s hemp industry to “unnecessary transportation and commerce restrictions” and further stated that “having additional guidance to allow the flow of hemp in interstate commerce would be critical to farmers in Oregon.” Indeed, as we previously explained, the interstate transportation of hemp is lawful for hemp grown under a plan approved by the USDA, pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill.
The ODA’s letter highlights the state’s robust regulation of the crop and the agency’s desire to remain at the forefront of hemp production. The ODA’s strong aspirations for hemp were also reflected domestically this past week. Indeed, a few days before it released its statement to the USDA, the Oregon department filed temporary hemp rules under Oregon Administrative Rules 603-048. The temporary rules, which became effective immediately, bring the ODA testing rules for industrial hemp intended for human consumption and hemp items in compliance with those of the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) as required by ORS 571.330. (That statute provides that industrial hemp intended for human consumption and hemp items must be tested similarly to marijuana under OHA’s rules. The OHA recently adopted new testing rules for marijuana, which forced the ODA to amend its rules.)
In addition to revising the ODA testing rules, the proposed rules clarify recordkeeping requirements. The Oregon department announced it would develop a template that registrant growers and handlers will be able to use to ensure their recordkeeping sufficiently meets ODA requirements. The template will be released on the ODA’s website as soon as it will be available. Finally, as we explained recently, the state legislature will likely pass a hemp bill this session.