In our previous post, we highlighted that the United Stated Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) published its final rule (the “Final Rule”) regulating the production of industrial hemp under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “2018 Farm Bill”). The Final Rule supersedes regulations set forth in the interim final rule published on October 31, 2019 (the “Interim Rule”).

The Final Rule was initially scheduled to take effect on March 22, 2021. However, a White House Memorandum issued by the Biden Administration on January 21, 2021 (the “Biden Memorandum”) effectively “froze” all regulations that had been published in the Federal Register but had not yet taken effect, including the Final Rule. The Biden Memorandum also granted agencies (such as the USDA) the authority to “consider opening a 30-day comment period.”

As part of the transition to the Biden Administrations, the USDA and many other agencies took this opportunity to review new and pending regulatory actions, including the Final Rule.

On March 8, 2021, the USDA completed its review of the Final Rule and announced that it was cleared to move forward as published in the Federal Register. The newly appointed head of the USDA, Tom Vilsack, subsequently signed off on the Final Rule.

As a result, the Final Rule took effect on March 22, 2021, as previously planned.

Husch Blackwell has experience working with USDA and regularly advises industrial hemp cultivators and manufacturers under state-regulated hemp programs. Our cannabis regulatory lawyers have reviewed the Final Rule and are ready to discuss the Final Rule’s implications on current and future business strategies. Please contact Steve Levine, Marshall Custer, Megan Herr or your Husch Blackwell attorney for further information.