New York state farmers are seeing their hemp-farming hopes being curbed. In an official letter, dated August 14th, 2020, state officials declared that federal regulations for this crop are “unrealistic”, adding that they have no intention to form a board to come up with state-level rules. The U.S. Department of Agriculture draws a very sharp line between what it considers legal hemp and marijuana. The New York state administration, in this case, was supposed to act as a buffering agent against the DEA’s hard line.
The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets also declared that it has reached out to the U.S. District Attorney, urging the DA to delay these rule changes and prolong the validity current regulations until 2021, or to come up with more sensible regulations, to avoid crushing the state’s hemp industry.
The current state of affairs, as usual, leaves cultivators in a realm of legal uncertainty which, as we often see, only the wealthier businesses can navigate, and not free of concern. It’s the same old US show. Yes, it’s federally legal, according to the 2018 Farm Bill and FDA officials. But — and this is quite a but — the DEA strongly disagrees: even without the psychoactive properties of high concentrations of THC, the hemp crop is still cannabis.
Indeed, the fact that hemp still contains some THC is exactly what jeopardizes farmers, who could incur in criminal charges. Even in the best case scenarios, these charges could force cultivators to get rid of a crop that they invested on, both financially and labor-wise. Many times, this outcome could be caused by the very simple fact that these farmers may lack financial and lega reach to endure a litigation and the possible risks of being sentenced.