by Courtney Llewellyn

During the Plant Ag & Pesticide Regulation Committee meeting which took place as part of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Winter Policy Conference on Feb. 24, a policy amendment for the promotion of hemp was presented by Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Anson Tebbetts.

The amendment read “NASDA supports an amendment to the definition of hemp in the 7 U.S.C. chapter 38, Hemp Production, Section 1639o (1) to say the term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a total tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration of not more than one (1) percent on a dry weight basis.”

Tebbetts said, “I believe hemp does have a future in agriculture. It’s a durable plant used for fiber, food and fuel, and we’re learning something new every day and every season.”

Stephanie Smith, chief policy enforcement officer for Vermont’s hemp program, noted that this amendment would be beneficial to state ag departments and producers for many reasons. It would help growers produce compliant plants and it allows greater flexibility and reduces risk to growers. “Last year in Vermont, growers lost 30% of their crop” due to the current maximum limit of allowable THC – “and this doesn’t take into account loss due to pests or weather or anything else,” she said.

The brief discussion on the change included comments from Steven Silverman, deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, who strongly supported the policy amendment. “Based on the research we’ve seen, moving from 0.3% to 1% would not have any concerns for public health or drug policy,” he noted. “There is no psychoactive effect at 1% THC – no one’s going to get high.”

With just two abstentions from New Hampshire and Rhode Island, where other agencies were required to weigh in on the proposed change, the motion to approve the amendment change was passed.