By Ramsey Scott
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE — Wyoming has finalized the proposed rules and regulations for its new hemp industry and has submitted them to the federal government for approval.
But the state will have to wait until at least this fall to learn if it will get the green light from the feds, or if its plan will need to be revised.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to develop its own set of regulations and guidelines for states looking to regulate their own hemp industry. The USDA estimates it will have those done by this fall, and then it will make decisions on whether states who have submitted their own regulations will be given approval within 60 days.
While the USDA is still working on its guidelines, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture decided to forge ahead and use elements of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production in the United States, to create its own regulations.
“This is the first step in the process toward the legal growing and processing of regulated hemp in the state of Wyoming under the WDA,” said Doug Miyamoto, director of the state Department of Agriculture, in a statement. “Even though USDA has stated they won’t review plans until the fall of this year, we hope they approve our plan quickly so we can move forward with a hemp program in Wyoming.”
Wyoming’s Legislature legalized industrial hemp production during this year’s general session. House Bill 171, sponsored by Rep. Bunky Loucks, R-Casper, allows for hemp to be grown in the state, along with the production and sale of hemp-based products, including ones containing CBD oil.
“We looked at what a lot of other states who (want to regulate) hemp are considering and worked with them to come up with our regulations,” said Derek Grant, spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.
Grant said the department wanted to ensure that once the USDA had finalized its own rules, Wyoming would be able to start green-lighting applications for growers to start producing hemp as soon as possible.
“We’re going to continue to move forward and prepare the program so once we have the green light to supply licenses, we’re able to approve applications,” Grant said.
Part of the regulations submitted to the USDA by Wyoming includes a testing regime to ensure the hemp being grown remains within the limits set by both federal and state law. For hemp to be considered legal, the plant must contain no more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
The state’s plan outlines that growers need to notify the Department of Agriculture 30 days before they plan to harvest their crop. When inspectors check for THC levels, at least 30 plants must be tested for every 100 acres of crops being grown.
If the tests reveal that plants are above the 0.3% level, the state will order the destruction of the crop.
Grant said Wyoming is currently in the process of collecting bids for testing equipment and setting up a lab in Laramie for the system. HB 171 set aside $120,000 for administering the program and another $315,000 for training, setting up the lab for testing and continued maintenance. The state has yet to spend any of that money.
“Once we have a program in place and are legally able to license producers and processors, license holders will be able to send samples to the Analytical Services Lab for their own information,” Grant said.