Status Update on Wyoming’s Hemp Program

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CHEYENNE– The office of Governor Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture have released a detailed update on the current status of the state’s hemp program.

The update is in response to a high level of statewide interest in the program, which was authorized by the legislature with the passage of House Bill 171 during the 2019 session. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill) removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, authorizing a federal hemp program and allowing for state-delegated authority. The state is currently waiting for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue regulations and review Wyoming’s state plan, which was completed in April.

“Wyoming is doing everything we can to launch the hemp industry,” Governor Gordon said. “We have investigated every opportunity to move this industry forward in the state within our present statutory framework. Last week, during a horseback ride with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, I encouraged him to get agency rules in place as soon as possible, and that our farmers were depending on them.”

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Current Status

During the 65th Wyoming State Legislature, Wyoming passed HB 171/HEA 110. This act repealed all existing industrial hemp statutes in Wyoming under an immediate effective date, including HB230/HEA 116.HB171/HEA110 required submission of a state plan for Hemp to USDA within 30 days of enactment. In addition, this act provided funding for administration of this program and testing equipment for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture’s (WDA) Analytical Services Laboratory.

In February, 2019 the USDA issued a Notice to Trade stating they had begun the rulemaking process for hemp production. In that notice, the USDA indicates they will not promulgate rules until the fall of 2019 and will not review state plans until their rules are in place

The WDA submitted their state plan to the USDA for delegated authority to regulate the hemp industry in Wyoming on April 4. The USDA responded with a letter to the Office of the Governor acknowledging their receipt of Wyoming’s draft plan. The letter also stated their goal is to issue regulations in the fall of 2019 to accommodate the 2020 planting season and, as required by law, USDA will provide plan reviews within 60 days, once regulations are effective. As of July, 2019 the State is still waiting for the USDA to complete its rulemaking process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal for me to grow hemp in Wyoming?

Answer:

No. Shortly after WDA submitted its state plan to USDA, the Director of WDA asked the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office whether any federal or Wyoming laws currently exist that would allow for the production or processing of hemp in Wyoming before the USDA enacts federal hemp regulations, or delegates primary regulatory authority over hemp to the State. The Attorney General’s office determined that “Neither federal nor Wyoming law authorizes production or processing of hemp in Wyoming until the USDA promulgates federal regulations or Wyoming promulgates hemp regulations after receiving delegated authority from the USDA.”

When will it be legal to grow hemp in Wyoming?

Answer:

  1. Not until the USDA rules are promulgated and Wyoming receives approval and delegated authority from the USDA.
  2. Earlier in the year, USDA sent a letter to the Office of the Governor acknowledging their receipt of Wyoming’s draft plan. The letter stated their goal is to issue regulations in the fall of 2019 to accommodate the 2020 planting season and, as required by law, USDA will provide plan reviews within 60 days, once regulations are effective. As of July, 2019 the State is still waiting for the USDA to complete their rulemaking process.

What is the State of Wyoming doing to move things along?

Answer:

a) HB154 appropriated $315,000 to WDA to purchase testing equipment and employ personnel {etc.}. WDA has purchased equipment for testing THC levels. Projected testing ability is set for September of 2019 in anticipation of USDA completing rulemaking and preparing for 2020 planting season.

b) WDA will utilize emergency rulemaking provisions available to the Department once USDA has approved the hemp regulatory plan.

Are there other legal avenues that will allow us to grow hemp before USDA rules are promulgated?

Answer:

Governor Gordon has been approached about issuing an Executive Order legalizing hemp production or possession in Wyoming. However, under an Executive Order any licenses issued would not be federally approved. This could potentially lead to law-enforcement issues and potentially load seizures. In addition, the state needs to have the ability to prove that the products meet the testing requirements of less than .3% THC. WDA has purchased this equipment and anticipates testing ability in September 2019.

Why is it taking so long?

Answer:

The State Of Wyoming has submitted all information to USDA required for consideration of delegated authority to regulate hemp. We currently must wait for the release of regulations from USDA and also the approval of the Wyoming plan that was submitted in April. The State Of Wyoming stands ready to move forward with regulations immediately upon approval by the USDA.

Is CBD part of the hemp laws? How is CBD different?

Answer:

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is derived directly from the hemp plant. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has jurisdiction over products containing cannabis or cannabis derived compounds, including cannabidiol. To review the FDA policy on CBD, look here.

“The Wyoming Department of Agriculture will be ready to implement a hemp program in Wyoming upon approval of our State Plan by USDA,” Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto said. “We are installing testing equipment in our Analytical Services Laboratory right now. We will request emergency rulemaking authority as soon as our plan is approved. This would allow immediate implementation of our program while we concurrently take public comment on our rules.”