Tennessee Hemp Businesses Face Threat from New Rules

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Tennessee hemp businesses are facing a threat to their industry as new rules and regulations are proposed by the state’s Department of Agriculture. These regulations, which are set to go into effect next year, would require hemp products to have less than 0.3% THC in all its forms, including THCA and delta-8 THC. This could potentially make many of the hemp products currently available in Tennessee illegal, causing concern among hemp growers and retailers. They argue that these rules go too far and could jeopardize the viability of the industry as a whole. Proposed regulations also include random inspections and testing of products being sold by retailers, further complicating the situation for businesses. A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for February 6, and the Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on the proposed rules.

Proposed Regulations for Hemp Industry

Regulations Threaten Viability of Hemp Businesses

Tennessee hemp businesses are expressing concerns about the proposed regulations for the industry, stating that these regulations threaten the viability of their businesses. The Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation in April to regulate and tax hemp products, and now the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is tasked with drafting rules to govern the industry. However, the newly proposed regulations are causing alarm among hemp business owners.

The proposed regulations would require hemp products to have less than 0.3% THC in all its forms, including THCA and delta-8 THC. This means that many of the hemp products currently available in Tennessee would become illegal under the new rules. Business owners argue that these regulations go beyond the scope of the law and are excessive. They believe that the new rules are regulating the industry out of business.

New Rules Challenge Industry’s Future

Hemp business owners in Tennessee are alarmed by the new regulations and believe that these rules could have a negative impact on the future of the industry. The proposed regulations not only make many products illegal but also pose a threat to sales and the market. With the potential loss of 90% of sales if the rules are implemented as currently written, hemp businesses fear that their viability will be severely compromised.

Hemp growers and retailers have worked hard to protect the reputation of the Tennessee hemp industry. They have advocated for regulations that would ensure the quality and reliability of hemp products, and this is why they are concerned about the new rules. They believe that the proposed regulations will hinder their ability to manufacture, test, and sell products, ultimately putting the entire industry at risk.

Tennessee Hemp Laws and Proposed Regulations

Five years ago, the U.S. Congress legalized hemp agriculture with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Tennessee’s hemp laws follow the definition provided by the Farm Bill, which defines hemp as cannabis plants with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. However, the proposed regulations from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture would require products to have less than 0.3% THC in all its forms, including THCA and delta-8 THC.

The proposed rules would make many of the hemp products currently available in Tennessee illegal. Hemp business owners argue that these rules go beyond the scope of the law and are creating a new definition of hemp outside of what was intended. They believe that the regulations are excessive and will have a detrimental impact on the industry.

Impact on Hemp Products

Current Availability of Hemp Products in Tennessee

Currently, there is a wide range of hemp products available in Tennessee. From CBD oils to edibles, topicals, and smokable flower, consumers have access to a variety of hemp-derived products. These products have gained popularity among individuals seeking natural remedies and alternative wellness options. Hemp business owners have worked hard to establish a market for these products and build a reputation for quality and reliability.

Proposed Rules Make Many Products Illegal

Unfortunately, the proposed regulations for the hemp industry in Tennessee threaten the availability of these products. The regulations would require hemp products to have less than 0.3% THC in all its forms, including THCA and delta-8 THC. This means that products currently available, such as CBD flower, which naturally contains THCA, would become illegal under the new rules.

Threat to Sales and Market

The proposed regulations pose a significant threat to the sales and market of hemp products in Tennessee. If these rules are implemented as currently written, many businesses estimate that 90% of their sales would be threatened. This would not only have a detrimental impact on individual businesses but also on the overall market for hemp products in the state.

Hemp business owners believe that the regulations are excessive and go beyond what is necessary to ensure the quality and safety of hemp products. They argue that these rules will hinder their ability to manufacture, test, and sell products and ultimately jeopardize the future of the industry.

Reaction from Hemp Business Owners

Business Owners Allege Excessive Regulation

Hemp business owners in Tennessee are vocal about their concerns regarding the proposed regulations for the industry. They believe that the regulations are excessive and are regulating the industry out of business. The rules go beyond what is necessary to ensure the quality and reliability of hemp products, according to the business owners.

Rules Beyond the Scope of the Law

The proposed regulations are causing alarm among hemp business owners because they go beyond the scope of the law. While Tennessee’s hemp laws follow the definition provided by the 2018 Farm Bill, the regulations would require products to have less than 0.3% THC in all its forms, including THCA and delta-8 THC. This means that products currently considered legal under state law would become illegal under the new rules.

Business owners argue that the regulations are creating a new definition of hemp outside of what was intended by the law. They believe that the rules are unnecessary and unjustifiably strict, putting the entire industry at risk.

Concerns about Viability of Industry

The proposed regulations have sparked concerns about the viability of the hemp industry in Tennessee. Hemp business owners fear that if the rules are implemented as currently written, their businesses will suffer and may even be forced to shut down. The loss of 90% of sales would be devastating for many businesses and could have a ripple effect on the entire industry.

These concerns are not just about individual businesses but also about the economic consequences of stifling the hemp industry. Hemp has the potential to be a significant economic driver in Tennessee, generating about $200 million per year in sales. Business owners fear that the proposed regulations will undermine this potential and hinder the growth of the industry.

Random Inspections and Testing

Proposed Rules Allow for Random Inspections

One of the most controversial aspects of the proposed regulations is the allowance for random inspections of hemp products. The Department of Agriculture would have the authority to conduct these inspections on retailers, testing the products being sold to ensure compliance with the regulations. Hemp business owners argue that this provision is unnecessary and intrusive.

Decarboxylation and THC Content

Hemp advocates raise concerns about the potential negative impact of the proposed regulations on THCA and CBD flower. They argue that by the time the products have been manufactured and received by retailers, some THCA may have decarboxylated, making them contain more than the allowed 0.3% delta-9 THC. This could result in products being deemed non-compliant and illegal, even if they were legal when they left the manufacturer.

Potential Negative Impact on THCA and CBD Flower

The proposed regulations pose a potential threat to the availability of THCA and CBD flower in Tennessee. Hemp business owners argue that the requirements and standards set by the rules are so rigorous that it would be practically impossible for farmers and growers to meet them. This means that THCA and CBD flower would likely not make it to the shelves, severely limiting consumer access to these products.

Hemp business owners believe that the proposed regulations are unnecessarily strict and do not take into account the natural variations in THC content that can occur during the growth and processing of hemp. They argue that these rules will stifle innovation and limit consumer choice.

Timeline for Implementation

Scheduled Date for New Rules to Take Effect

The proposed regulations are currently scheduled to go into effect in July. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has set this timeline for the implementation of the rules. However, there is a possibility that this date may be delayed if the regulations are not finalized in time.

Possibility of Delay

Due to the concerns and backlash from hemp business owners, there is a possibility that the implementation of the new rules may be delayed. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on the proposed regulations, and a hearing on the proposal will be held in February. This means that changes could be made to the regulations based on public feedback and engagement.

Hemp business owners and advocates are hopeful that the department will take into consideration the concerns raised and make necessary adjustments to the rules. The delay in implementation would provide an opportunity for further discussions and negotiations to find a balance between regulation and industry viability.

Public Hearing and Public Comment Period

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is actively seeking public input on the proposed regulations. A public hearing on the proposal will be held on February 6th, providing an opportunity for individuals and organizations to voice their concerns and provide feedback.

Public engagement and feedback are crucial in shaping the final regulations for the hemp industry in Tennessee. Hemp business owners and advocates are encouraging individuals to participate in the public comment period and make their voices heard. They believe that public input can have a significant influence on the final regulations and ultimately determine the future of the hemp industry in the state.

Number of Licensed Hemp Growers

Current Number of Licensed Growers in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a total of 319 growers have been licensed to grow hemp. These licensed growers play a crucial role in the state’s hemp industry, providing the raw material for the production of hemp products. The number of licensed growers demonstrates the growth and interest in the industry.

Estimated Value of the Hemp Industry

The hemp industry in Tennessee is estimated to generate about $200 million per year in sales. This value represents the economic contribution of the industry to the state. Hemp business owners emphasize the importance of nurturing and supporting this industry to maximize its economic potential.

Impact of Proposed Regulations on the Industry

The proposed regulations have the potential to severely impact the hemp industry in Tennessee. Hemp business owners fear that the regulations will hinder the growth and viability of the industry, jeopardizing the economic benefits it could bring to the state. The loss of business and the limitation on product availability could have a significant negative impact on the industry’s overall value.

Hemp business owners emphasize the need for regulations that strike a balance between ensuring the quality and safety of hemp products and allowing for the growth and innovation of the industry. They argue that excessive regulations could stifle the industry’s potential and undermine its economic significance.

Support from State Legislature

State Representative Monitoring Proposed Regulations

State Representative Chris Hurt, a member of the Agriculture Committee in Tennessee, has been monitoring the situation with the proposed regulations. Hurt, who has experience growing hemp, shares the concerns expressed by hemp business owners and believes that the rules need to be clarified.

Hurt views the proposed regulations as changing the rules in the middle of the game. He plans to sponsor new legislation in 2024 to address the concerns and clarify the intent of the law passed earlier. His support and advocacy for the hemp industry demonstrate the importance of legislative engagement in shaping the regulations that affect businesses.

Plans for New Legislation in 2024

State Representative Chris Hurt has plans to introduce new legislation in 2024 to address the concerns raised by the proposed regulations. This legislation aims to clarify the intent of the existing law and provide a framework that supports the growth and viability of the hemp industry.

Hurt’s commitment to sponsoring new legislation shows the active efforts being made to find a balance between regulation and industry needs. He recognizes that the current regulations pose a threat to the industry and advocates for a more favorable environment for hemp businesses in Tennessee.

Consideration of Litigation by Hemp Association

Hemp business owners, represented by the Tennessee Growers Association, have stated that they will consider litigation if the proposed rules go into effect as currently written. Litigation would be a last resort for business owners who are deeply concerned about the future of their industry.

The potential for litigation underscores the severity of the situation and the impact that the proposed regulations could have on hemp businesses. Business owners are willing to go to great lengths to protect their livelihoods and the viability of the industry as a whole.

Potential Legalization Impact

Legalization Efforts and Impact on Hemp Industry

The potential impact of legalization efforts on the hemp industry in Tennessee remains uncertain. While the future of hemp is somewhat tied to broader cannabis legalization, it is unclear how changes in cannabis laws would affect the regulations for hemp specifically.

Hemp business owners and advocates recognize the potential benefits of broader legalization. They believe that legalization would create a more favorable environment for the hemp industry by removing barriers and expanding access to the market. However, the current focus is on addressing the proposed regulations and ensuring the viability of the industry within the existing legal framework.

Uncertainty Surrounding Future of Hemp in Tennessee

Given the uncertainty surrounding the proposed regulations and the potential impact of broader legalization efforts, the future of the hemp industry in Tennessee is uncertain. Hemp business owners acknowledge the challenges ahead but remain hopeful that through advocacy and engagement, the industry can overcome obstacles and thrive.

The industry’s future will likely depend on the outcome of the public comment period, the potential changes to the proposed regulations, and any future legislative actions. Hemp business owners and advocates are committed to fighting for the industry and ensuring its long-term viability.

Potential Economic Consequences

The potential economic consequences of restrictive regulations on the hemp industry are significant. If the proposed regulations are implemented as currently written, the industry could suffer a significant loss in sales and market share. This could have a ripple effect on businesses, employees, and the overall economy.

Hemp businesses contribute to the local economy by creating jobs and generating revenue. The loss of these businesses would not only impact individual livelihoods but also have a broader impact on the state’s economy. This is why it is crucial to find a balance between regulation and industry viability to maximize the economic benefits of the hemp industry.

Industry Advocacy and Public Comment

Advocacy and Activism from Hemp Business Owners

Tennessee Hemp Businesses Face Threat from New Rules

Hemp business owners in Tennessee have been actively advocating for their industry in the face of the proposed regulations. They have voiced their concerns to media outlets, engaged in public discussions, and worked closely with lawmakers to protect the viability of their businesses.

This advocacy and activism are vital for raising awareness about the potential negative impact of the proposed regulations and mobilizing support for the industry. Hemp business owners understand the importance of actively participating in the process to ensure that their voices are heard and that their concerns are taken into account.

Importance of Public Engagement and Feedback

Public engagement and feedback are crucial in shaping the final regulations for the hemp industry in Tennessee. The Department of Agriculture is actively seeking public input through a comment period and a public hearing. This provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations to express their concerns, provide feedback, and contribute to the decision-making process.

Hemp business owners encourage individuals to participate in the public comment period and make their voices heard. They believe that public engagement can have a significant influence on the final regulations and play a critical role in shaping the future of the industry.

Potential Influence on Final Regulations

The public’s engagement and feedback have the potential to significantly influence the final regulations for the hemp industry in Tennessee. The Department of Agriculture will carefully review the comments and take them into consideration when finalizing the rules.

Hemp business owners and advocates are hopeful that the department will make necessary adjustments to the proposed regulations based on the public input received. They believe that the concerns raised by the industry and the public will be taken seriously and that changes will be made to ensure a balanced and supportive regulatory framework.

Conclusion

The future of Tennessee’s hemp industry hangs in the balance as business owners voice concerns over proposed regulations. These regulations threaten the viability of hemp businesses and potentially hinder the growth and economic potential of the industry. Advocacy and engagement from business owners and the public are crucial in shaping the final regulations and ensuring a fair and supportive environment for the industry.

It is essential to find a balance between regulation and industry viability to maximize the economic benefits of the hemp industry. Although there is uncertainty surrounding the future, hemp business owners remain hopeful and committed to fighting for their businesses and the industry as a whole. With active participation and a united front, they believe that they can overcome the obstacles and forge a path towards a thriving and sustainable hemp industry in Tennessee.

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