Federal Update: The USDA has published the Final Rule for Domestic Hemp Production!
After a thorough review of public comments spanning 14 months and the 2020 growing season, the Final Rule incorporates modifications to regulations previously established under the interim final rule (IFR) published in October 2019.
Here are some key adjustments that affect Texas Hemp Farmers:
USDA staff will continue to conduct education and outreach to help industry achieve compliance with the requirements. The new USDA Secretary-Designate Tom Vilsack has been a strong hemp supporter and we anticipate continued evolution of cannabis regulations throughout his next term.
If you would like to read the complete USDA Final Rule click here to access the 301 page document.
Your membership is vital to creating the critical infrastructure needed for Hemp to thrive in Texas! We are honored to know you and look forward to providing more valuable information in 2021!
CBD Extraction is currently illegal in Texas, however over 400 farms are licensed to grow industrial hemp and many don’t know where their crops will be processed this year. Here is our analysis of Texas draft laws to regulate Consumable Hemp Products (CHP’s) that were last month. Texas Hemp Harvesters Association (TXHHA) provides Texas’ Hemp industry with unbiased, actionable education, plus members have access to a robust network and cutting edge intel!
Department of State Health Services (DSHS) was tasked by the state legislature to develop rules that oversee the processing, manufacturing, distribution, and retail sale of CHP’s intended for human consumption. Hemp seed and hemp fiber processing are regulated by Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and are considered ‘non-consumable hemp products’. A few things need to happen before extraction facilities and retail stores can apply for licenses. The countdown began when DSHS published draft rules for HB1325 in the Texas Register May 8th, triggering the mandatory 30 day comment period. After all comments have been reviewed the final language will be adopted into law, releasing license and registration applications sometime mid-July.
Undoubtedly the most controversial component of the interim rules is the unilateral prohibition of smokable hemp. Many feel this is an overstep of legislative intent which prohibits manufacturing and distribution in HB1325, however DSHS has added ‘distribution and retail sales’ to their one sentence ruling on this topic. This prohibition has been loudly criticized since its inclusion in the initial draft rules last October, sparking public outcry across the state. There are potential workarounds such as removing the word ‘smoke’ from labels…thereby removing the intent. Keep in mind, the sale of raw hemp flower for other purposes remains legal.
Businesses planning to process, manufacture or distribute CHP’s are required to license each facility including storage sites. The license application requires basic business information, a fingerprint criminal background check, GPS location, and $250 fee per facility for the initial license. DSHS anticipates a 45 day review process for applications.
Although existing retailers are allowed to sell CBD and CHP’s, once these rules are finalized businesses must register with DSHS prior to possessing, transporting, distributing or selling their existing inventory. Full responsibility for compliant products falls to the retail owner, including testing products with non-compliant labeling and providing samples for random DSHS inspections. Employees and independent contractors working for registered retailers do not need to register independently. It is unclear how long CBD shops will have to register with the state after the law becomes effective.
Both licensees and registered businesses are required to keep test results for a minimum of 3 years. Testing is required for all ingredients to determine the concentration of cannabinoids, THC, and harmful residuals. Accredited labs holding ISO 17025 certification can issue a final Certificate of Analysis (COA) which must be provided to DSHS upon request. Products containing tested ingredients do not need to be retested provided the label has a URL and QR code which include all COA’s. This applies to products manufactured in Texas and those imported from out of state.
Enforcement has been left somewhat vague, noting penalties will be assessed based on compliance violation. Packaging and labeling must conform; any products that are adulterated, misbranded, or otherwise violate health and safety codes will be tagged. Violations will be written and sent via certified mail, stating the summary of alleged violations and penalty amount. Owners will have a 20 day response period and are allowed to request a hearing.
Overall “the proposed rules will positively affect the state’s economy and are anticipated to expand economic opportunities for individuals interested in the manufacture, processing, or retail sale of consumable hemp products.” states Donna Sheppard, CFO at Texas Department of State Health Services.
Texas Hemp Harvesters Association is committed to building a responsible hemp supply chain in Texas, something that does not exist today. Join Now! By becoming a member you receive insightful, actionable education and have access to the largest legal hemp network in Texas. Get connected to your regional supply chain through TXHHA today!
Over 400 producer applications have been approved, and TDA is working hard to ensure a timely review of the more than 800 total applications submitted since March 16th. TXHHA spoke to Randy Rivera about the manpower required to launch such a massive program. He explained the lack of financial support in HB1325 required TDA to absorb the new Hemp Program into their existing operation, to date 15 people are working full time, pulling some resources from other regions and offices.
Those wishing to apply can only do so online through TDA, which has required applicants to watch a 20 minute video before receiving access to the form. There are 4 applications available, each is capped with $100 fee:
· Producer License
· Lot Crop Permit
· Handler License
· Handler Sampler License
If you have already applied and have not received a response, TDA recommends that you first check your spam folder, and then email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
A recent count of Texas approved seed varietals is creeping toward 300, which meet state and federal seed law (label variety, seller, and origin of seed) but do not account for genetics or THC. With so many choices how do farmers know which seed to select and who to purchase from? TXHHA recommends interviewing a few seed companies to ensure you find a reputable one. Seed sellers should be able to provide you with the following:
Hemp producers are required to retain seed purchase documents for 3 years.
TXHHA is the only Texas association to boast a number of higher education institutes within its membership. Texas Tech, Texas State University, and Prairie View A&M have received a special Research License through TDA and plan to conduct ongoing experiments. During this first year data collected from across the state should be aggregated and evaluated by AgriLife’s Hemp Program. This information establishes a baseline for hemp in Texas, identifying which seed varietals work best in our various growing conditions.
We have also partnered with US Hemp Building Association and US Hemp Feed Coalition to ensure our membership is updated with accurate information in both these important national industries.
A research team from A&M have created a hand-held scanner that instantly reads THC levels without damage to the plant. The research paper published Jan.17, 2020 demonstrates how Raman Spectroscopy (RS), modern analytical technique, can be used to determine whether plant material is hemp or cannabis with 100% accuracy.
Read full paper here.
Texas's first year cultivating hemp requires seeds or clones from outside the state to be transported in for distribution. Texas State Seed Trade Association has been tasked with certifying hemp seeds for state wide distribution, and recently approved 6 seed varieties from Sunbelt Hemp out of Georgia.
Efficient facilitation of seed transactions will be required immediately upon license approval, which is expected in the next 30 days.
Organizations who would like to sell seed or clones in the state can submit requirements for review by Texas State Seed & Plant Board. TXHHA members have access to resources that address existing processes and best practices to ensure your business is prepared.
Texas Hemp Harvesters, along with Coats Rose, Piney Woods Hemp Co., and Eco Friends held the first fundraiser for TDA’s Hemp Program January 29th in Dallas. There was a tremendous turnout and the event raise thousands of dollars in donations! We are proud to support all governing agencies and look forward to our next fundraiser for law enforcement.