The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it plans to make hemp rule changes in a year ahead of schedule in August.
This comes as hemp programs across the country, including here in Tennessee, have seen explosive growth.
The U.S.D.A. indicates the new regulations will address issues like testing standards, law enforcement compliance, inspections, disposal, and certification for both products and industry workers.
They’re all gray areas stakeholders here in Tennessee have brought up since the pilot hemp program began in 2015.
Joe Kirkpatrick from the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association said he hopes the federal laws don’t become a setback for the state.
“What we are trying to do is get rules federally that don’t make it more difficult, where the state doesn’t have to go in and do it – they are rules because we have worked hard for two or three years on getting a set of rules that makes Tennessee the best place to grow and process hemp in the world,” said Kirkpatrick.
Meanwhile, Tennessee’s first steps towards self-regulation is in effect with a new law that legalizes smoking hemp flower.
That law, however, bans the sale to minors.
Lance Jarreld smokes hemp to ease digestive issues.
“After I smoke, it just the muscles in my stomach – does relaxing and it’s a feeling, you can feel it and you feel relief,” said Jarreld. “It’s stress-free, I guess, just knowing that I can legally ride around with it.”
The new law also benefits farmers like Chase Sexton, whose family made the switch from raising cattle to growing smokable hemp.
As he scopes out retailers to sell his product come harvest time, he said the new law gives him hope for family farms like his.
“It’s a way for me and my family to be able to make not just money to pay for our farm, but make a living,” said Sexton.
The rule changes also open the door for more business for retailers, like Ivan Adler of Elevated Smoke and Vape Shop in South Nashville.
“We are thinking about an expansion with CBD products in general. Smokable hemp is one of the delivery systems we have in store,” said Adler. “Now that that stigma has been removed, we think we are going to see a great deal of expansion of people coming in that are curious and purchasing as well.”