May 22, 2019 by Todd Sprieszl, Regulatory Associate

With the passing of The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (The 2018 Farm Bill), there has been a buzz of excitement, with many thinking this has opened the flood gates for hemp importation. However, this has not yet been the case, as US government agencies have been in a rush to get a new regulatory framework released for hemp importation.

In The 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and hemp seeds were removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) schedule of the Controlled Substances, subsequently removing their authority over products containing no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Products containing a THC content greater than this will still fall under schedule l controlled substances and remain illegal, federally. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), who is responsible for regulating import of seeds for planting, has assisted in providing a framework for the safe importation of hemp seeds.

They have stated that hemp seed imported into the United States, from Canada, must be accompanied by one of the two following documents:

  1. A phytosanitary certificate from Canada’s national plant protection organization, which verifies both the origin of the seeds and confirms that no plant pests were detected in the given lot.
  2. A Federal Seed Analysis Certificate (Available on the US Customs and Border Protection website), for any hemp seeds grown in Canada.

For hemp seeds imported from any country other than Canada, the lot must be accompanied with a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country’s national plant protection organization to verify the seed’s origin, and confirm that no plant pests were detected in the lot.

All hemp seed shipments may still be inspected upon arrival at the first port of entry by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to assure that the USDA regulations, outlined above, are met.

Although this is a huge step in terms of flow of hemp seeds into the US, it begs the question, what about the other parts of the hemp plant, specifically hemp flower? The government has yet to release any further details on importation of hemp flower and other parts of the plant. We should expect more details in the coming months, as their goal was to have the framework in place for the fall of 2019. Therefore, those in the hemp industry will have to remain patient in waiting for clarity on how this will unfold.