WSDA Sets New Rules for Hemp Production
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has finalized its regulatory plan for hemp production, establishing new license fees and requirements for applications, THC testing, and sampling protocols.
The agency’s plan will take effect in 60 days. It was submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday for approval as required by the 2018 Farm Bill and state law.
This year, the Legislature also directed WSDA to initiate expedited rulemaking to establish the hemp production program. Expedited rulemaking eliminates the need for WSDA to hold public hearings or prepare a Small Business Economic Impact Statement.
New application requirements
Based on federal regulations, all applications must be accompanied by a criminal history report that is completed no more than 60 days prior to the date the application is submitted to WSDA. Applicants are also required to report hemp crop acreage to the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).
WSDA will continue to test hemp using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and calculate the total THC concentration in the material on a dry weight basis, which is required by the USDA.
WSDA will move from sampling 30 days before harvest to sampling 15 days before harvest as required by USDA. This may require WSDA to contract with more labs in the coming year or hire more seasonal staff to handle the increased workload and avoid delays for producers. Based on USDA requirements, WSDA will transition from a whole plant sampling procedure to taking a cutting from just underneath flowering material located at the top one-third of the plant.
Currently, WSDA issues licenses year round, each with a different expiration date. Under the new rules, all applications must be submitted between January 1 and March 31. All licenses will expire April 30 following the year the license is issued. Applications submitted after March 31 will be subject to a late fee of $200.
The new application window will allow WSDA to better allocate resources throughout the year and to plan proactively for harvest, ensuring seasonal staff are trained and ready.
WSDA will combine the application and license fee to a single, $750 license fee. Beginning June 1, 2020, that fee will increase to $1,200 with the intent of covering all program expenses as required by the 2018 Farm Bill and USDA regulations. The license fee was based on current data, but if more licenses are issued than anticipated, WSDA will reevaluate the fees to bring revenue in line with the program’s expenses.
USDA is currently accepting comments to their interim rules and WSDA would adjust its rules and procedures if the USDA changes their rules. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns about WSDA’s new hemp program rules.