The Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (VDACS) announced that in 2022 they are adopting the USDA’s Domestic Hemp Production Program regulations.
VDACS, the state authority that oversees the cultivation, processing, and dealing of industrial hemp, notified registered industrial hemp growers of the following changes:
Every applicant for an Industrial Hemp Grower Registration must submit an FBI Identity History Summary to VDACS.
Virginia’s industrial hemp growers – current and prospective – are now required to obtain a criminal history report from the FBI. Applicants must also submit the criminal histories of all partners and executives, including CEO, COO, and CFO.
Growers who were issued a registration between July 1, 2021 and December 13, 2021 are required to submit a supplemental application – including criminal history reports – before they begin the 2022 growing season. Growers whose registration expires before June 30, 2022 are required to reapply under the new regulations.
Individuals with any felony controlled substance conviction – including marijuana – within the last 10 years are still ineligible for an industrial hemp registration. However, the regulations are unclear as to how an applicant’s criminal history may affect the ability to get a registration.
FBI criminal history checks take about three to five days to process, and VDACS’ own backlog of applications is estimated at 45 days. As more states adopt the new federal regulations, we are likely to see an exponential backlog in criminal history checks, delaying Virginia’s 2022 growing season and shrinking the supply of industrial hemp in Virginia.
Growers must obtain lot identification numbers from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) prior to growing.
FSA field offices are located throughout the Commonwealth, but some offices in Southwest Virginia, where a majority of industrial hemp growers reside, serve multiple jurisdictions.
In addition to obtaining lot identification numbers prior to growing, prospective industrial hemp growers must also continue to submit the coordinates of their lots concurrent with their yearly application.
Registered Industrial Hemp Growers must report certain crop information to USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).
Currently, growers must submit planting and propagation reports to VDACS 15 days within planting, 30 days prior to harvest, and five days after. Under the new regulations, growers must also report acreage or greenhouse square footage to their area FSA.
All Registered Industrial Hemp Growers are required to test the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of their hemp lots 30 days before each lot is harvested.
Currently industrial hemp growers are subject to randomized testing by VDACS. Under the USDA’s new regulations, growers are now responsible for selecting a trained sampling agent and a VDACS-approved testing lab to test each lot 30 days prior to harvesting.
Once the crop meets the maximum 0.3% THC concentration, the grower has 30 days to harvest the crop or else is required to submit for testing again. Growers are still responsible for all testing costs and must maintain sampling records for at least three years.
At this date, the list of VDACS-approved sampling agents and testing laboratories has not yet been posted.
As more states increase hemp production with an eye towards marijuana commercialization, the federal government is attempting to establish uniform testing and safety standards while legalization is stalled in Congress. However, Virginia’s registered industrial hemp growers face a slew of new administrative and financial burdens that could jeopardize the affordability and availability of products for thousands of medicinal users.
Growers need an advocate that can understand how VDACS’ new regulations and any new cannabis legislation will affect their ability to flourish in Virginia.
Gentry Locke Consulting is Virginia’s premiere cannabis consulting firm, delivering proactive and comprehensive services in regulatory compliance, business consulting, capital acquisition, and legislative affairs to help clients maximize their opportunities in Virginia’s newest billion dollar industry.