USDA Memorandum Allows Interstate Hemp Transport

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WASHINGTON D.C. – A memorandum was issued on May 28, by U.S. Department of Agriculture General Counsel Stephen Vaden, which clarified that interstate transportation of hemp is allowed under the Farm Bill.

States and Indian tribes still have the right to regulate hemp in their own jurisdictions, but after implementation of new provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, they will not be able to restrict transportation of hemp that is legally produced under 2018 and 2014 Farm Bill regulations.

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The clarification was noted on several transportation industry news outlets, and the memorandum was posted at USDA.gov.

Issued by the Office of the General Counsel, the memo made four points, as follows:

  • As of the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill on December 20, 2018, hemp has been removed from schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and is no longer a controlled substance.
  • After USDA publishes regulations implementing the new hemp production provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, States and Indian tribes may not prohibit the interstate transportation or shipment of hemp lawfully produced under a State or Tribal plan or under a license issued under the USDA plan.
  • States and Indian tribes also may not prohibit the interstate transportation or shipment of hemp lawfully produced under the 2014 Farm Bill.
  • A person with a State or Federal felony conviction relating to a controlled substance is subject to a ten-year ineligibility restriction on producing hemp under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. An exception applies to a person who was lawfully growing hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill before December 20, 2018, and whose conviction also occurred before that date.

It also was noted “hemp and hemp seeds” have been removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances.

LandlineMag.com noted Counsel Vaden’s citation of two cases for his opinion. One case involves a commercial truck driver named Denis Palmarchuk, who is currently awaiting trial for illegal transport of a 6,700-pound cargo of hemp in Idaho. Palmarchuk was arrested in January and charged under stricter Idaho regulations, where laws do not distinguish between specific plant varieties, like hemp and cannabis.

Vaden disagreed with the Idaho magistrate’s opinion in that case, noting that the hemp was legally produced under the bill. He also pointed to another case, U.S. v. Mallory, in which courts allowed the transport of hemp over state lines by defendants.

Two other truckers currently are awaiting sentencing in Idaho after pleading guilty to reduced charges of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Erich C. Eisenhart and Andrew K. D’Addario were arrested in January for transporting 915 plants from a farm in Oregon, to a production facility in Idaho, and originally indicted by grand jury on marijuana trafficking with special circumstances involving more than 100 plants, which were knocked down as part of the plea deal. Eisenhart and D’Addario are scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.

In related news: Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbot today signed legislation that allows for the production and sale of hemp and CBD products. Texas House Bill 1325 allows the production, transportation, and sales of hemp products, effective immediately.

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