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Posted by Hemptopia on August 22, 2016
HIA Response to USDA/DEA Statement & Joint Letter to Secretary Vilsack
|On Friday August 12th the USDA, DEA and FDA issued a joint "Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp" to inform the public how Federal law applies to activities associated with industrial hemp that is grown and cultivated in accordance with Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014. The full statement can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2bBBOPJ|
HIA attorney's Joe Sandler and Patrick Goggin reviewed the statement along with Executive Director Eric Steenstra and found several positive developments but also some inaccuracies and areas of concern. We also discussed the statement with other companies and groups that have been working with us to pass federal legislation.
On a positive note, the statement confirmed that private farmers can conduct pilot programs when acting in partnership with a state department of agriculture or an institution of higher learning. Previously the DEA had claimed this was not authorized under Sec. 7606. In addition, the statement confirmed that Sec. 7606 participants may be able to participate in USDA research or other programs. USDA has indicated that this may include funding and programs such as USDA National Organic Program.
While we do believe that USDA officials are supportive of hemp, it was clear that the statement was primarily written by the DEA and contained incorrect interpretations of the plain language of Sec. 7606. The statement includes comments which appear to interpret federal law without providing for comments as required under federal law. In order to justify not accepting comments, the statement contains a disclaimer stating "This Statement of Principles does not establish any binding legal requirements."
Since the agencies chose not to issue an interpretive rule with opportunity for comment from the public and stakeholders, the HIA believes that the statement does not carry the force of law. If the DEA decides to act on any of the incorrect comments contained in the statement, the HIA is prepared to defend its members and the industry. Make sure to download and read the full HIA analysis and response.
The HIA also cosigned a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack sharing concerns and asking for clarification. The letter was also signed by Vote Hemp, the Kentucky Hemp Industry Council, the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council and the National Hemp Association.