Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), the Agricultural Research Administration, the Bureau of Agriculture and Industrial Chemistry, the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) are all government agencies that oversee the cultivation, production, manufacturing, and distribution of hemp and hemp products at the Federal level, while the Nevada Department of Agriculture (“NDA”) is responsible for state oversight, and each county provides local approval.
The DEA has strictly controlled the cultivation of hemp since the late 1950’s, despite it prior classification as an agricultural commodity. The Harrison Act of 1914 established this Nation’s first control regime drug policy, where producers and distributors were required to register, maintain records, and pay taxes, and prescriptions were required for use. By the 1930s, several state governments and other countries had moved forward with outright bans, and in 1937, U.S. Government passed the Marihuana Tax Act. These regulatory frameworks, and the 1961 United Nations Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs, ultimately set the foundation for the outright ban of both hemp and marijuana, under what we now know as the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”).
On February 6, 2004, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in Hemp Industry Association v. Drug Enforcement Administration, concluded that Congress did not regulate non-psychoactive hemp as provided in Schedule I of the CSA, and as the DEA did not meet the requirements necessary to place non-psychoactive hemp on Schedule I, ‘non-psychoactive hemp is explicitly excluded from the definition of marijuana.’ However, this case would only impact the import of hemp from other countries, and its use in U.S. products.
In January 2000, the United States Department of Agriculture released a market research report that covered the viability of industrial hemp as a native crop, and the potential commercial market demand for industrial hemp products in the United States. This report stressed the necessitation for hemp research and market studies to be completed first, as a guiding factor in determining the viability of the crop before authorizing American farmers to take the plunge.
The Agricultural Act of 2014 legitimized hemp research via cultivation by institutions of higher education and state departments of agriculture. However, under the 2014 Act, hemp could only be grown for either marketing and research purposes under an agricultural pilot program, or as authorized under state law. However, with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Federal Government finally acknowledged that each state, respectively, would have the primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp within its borders. Hemp would still come under its purview, and audits would be still be warranted. Each State’s Governor, Department of Agriculture, and Chief Law Enforcement Officer must work with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to develop plans and adopt new regulations.
The Agricultural Marketing Act of 2018 was further amended with the passage of the Agricultural Improvement Act. The Federal Register Published a new part to the Code, and on October 31, 2019, rules and regulations were put in place for the production of hemp as a legal American crop.