TN Department of Ag getting into hemp mode

An informational page has sprouted up on the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s main website that digs into some of the questions and issues surrounding the legal status of industrial hemp cultivation in the Volunteer State, observes TNReport.

The page (HERE) also serves to get the ball rolling on the development of state regulations and licensing processes to allow Tennessee farmers to grow hemp, as the department has been directed by the Legislature.

“We fully intend to have a workable draft of rules and regulations within the next few weeks as we gather some more information and as we get input from subject-matter experts,” Tennessee Agriculture Department spokesman Tom Womack told TNReport.

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a law this past session legalizing strains of the cannabis family that don’t yield significant amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the naturally occurring psychoactive chemical chiefly responsible for producing intoxicating effects when the plant’s leaves and flowers are ingested.

In addition to removing low-THC varieties of cannabis from the state’s list of banned substances, the law declares that the Tennessee Department of Agriculture “shall oversee and annually license any grower who wishes to produce industrial hemp” and “develop rules and regulations concerning industrial hemp production.”

…The new law, sponsored by Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, and Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, was approved on votes of 28-0 in the Senate and 88-5 in the House. It was signed by Gov. Bill Haslam on May 13. The department has 120 days from that date to develop rules, begin taking formal comments on them and schedule a public hearing for further input and discussion, which officials anticipate happening over the summer.

“Informally, we are already receiving suggestions from people from other states, people are calling in with questions and suggestions, so it’s an open process,” said David Waddell, administrative manager for the department’s Consumer and Industry Services Division, which will handle hemp licensing and regulation. “Our goal is to have the whole program up and going so that folks will be able to plant a crop next year.”

Note: The draft of proposed new Department of Agriculture hemp rules is HERE.