State aligns hemp guidelines with federal standards

Growers have longer harvest window and revamped registration cycle.
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Updates to Michigan’s Industrial Hemp Growers Act are giving hemp farmers and growers more latitude to expand.

The state’s hemp program is now aligned with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Domestic Hemp Production program. The change should allow for more opportunity in the hemp industry.

The updates to Michigan’s Industrial Hemp Growers Act allow farmers to have 15 additional days for harvest, increasing the harvest window to 30 days. The registration cycle for growers now is Feb. 1-Jan. 31 instead of Dec. 1-Nov. 30. However, registrations issued to growers for the 2021 growing season still are valid.

Michigan, as well as other states, can develop performance-based sampling requirements. This allows MDARD to take into consideration variables such as seed certification, grower compliance, variety performance, etc. when developing its sampling plan.

Growers also now can remediate non-compliant hemp instead of disposing it. The specific options for remediation are identified and require post-remediation sampling to ensure compliance with acceptable THC levels. The negligence threshold has been raised from 0.5% to 1%, and the maximum number of negligent violations a grower can receive in a growing season (a calendar year) has been limited to one.

Also, effective Dec. 31, 2022, all laboratories testing industrial hemp, including those laboratories testing hemp throughout the growing season to monitor THC levels, must be registered with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.

“Updating our industrial hemp growers act was a critical step in maintaining regulatory certainty for hemp cultivation in Michigan,” said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “This helps our hemp growers and processors ensure they’re aligned nationally and signals the importance of supporting this emerging part of our agriculture economy. I appreciate the bi-partisan support and swift movement ensuring Michigan’s legislative framework meets federal requirements.”

Michigan’s Industrial Hemp Growers Act was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. The legislation allowed MDARD to establish an industrial hemp program and authorized it to develop and submit to USDA an industrial hemp plan and, upon approval, use the industrial hemp plan to operate the hemp program.

Prior to Michigan’s Industrial Hemp Growers Act, the state’s legislature enacted the Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act, Public Act 641 of 2018. It amended the Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act, Public Act 547 of 2014, which authorized growing and cultivating industrial hemp for research purposes only and expanded authorization for the development of a commercial hemp program in the state.

That allowed for CBD products made from industrial hemp with less than 0.3% in THC to be sold at stores.

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