Field of Hemp

Late last year, Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “Farm Bill”). While the passage of a Farm Bill is a common occurrence for Congress, the 2018 version is significant because it removes hemp from the list of controlled substances, leading many (including us!) to project a boom in the U.S. Hemp Industry.

More recent developments have given some in the industry pause, including a December 20, 2018 Statement from the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration making clear that the FDA had regulatory authority over products containing CBD, even if those products were derived from hemp. The Statement seemed to indicate that the FDA would focus on food products containing CBD and products marketed as having certain medical or therapeutic properties. Furthermore, operators in the industry must also be aware of, and compliant with, state laws and regulations governing the production of industrial hemp. We recently blogged on this topic as well.

The Hemp Industry may get more clarity this month, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a “listening session” during which the Agricultural Marketing Service will discuss “a new program to regulate hemp production” and receive comments from attendees to assist the Department in devising such a program. The Listening Session will occur on March 13, 2019 from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST, and requires pre-registration to attend.

While this is merely the first step in what could be a long rulemaking process, it is a good sign to see the federal government moving quickly in response to questions and uncertainty in this newly invigorated industry. For more information, see the official statement and information on the session from the USA Website.

Here is the full Summary from the USDA’s Statement: In preparing to implement the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill), the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will host a listening session for initial public input about a new program to regulate hemp production. The listening session will provide interested parties with an opportunity to assist the Agency’s future rulemaking efforts by sharing their views on how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can partner with agriculture agencies representing states, territories, and Indian tribes to implement a nationwide program for overseeing the production of industrial hemp.

Joseph McNelis works in Fox Rothschild’s Blue Bell, PA office and focuses his practice on labor and employment matters. Joe also tracks legal developments in the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Joe can be contacted at 610-397-2332 or