The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) legalized hemp by removing the crop and its derivatives from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and by providing a detailed framework for the cultivation of hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill gives the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulatory authority over hemp cultivation at the federal level. In turn, states have the option to maintain primary regulatory authority over the crop cultivated within their borders by submitting a plan to the USDA.

This federal and state interplay has resulted in many legislative and regulatory changes at the state level. Indeed, most states have introduced (and adopted) bills that would authorize the commercial production of hemp within their borders. A smaller but growing number of states also regulate the sale of products derived from hemp. Our attorneys track these developments in real-time on behalf of multiple clients, and we provide those clients with a 50-state matrix showing how states regulate hemp and hemp products.

In light of the rapidly evolving legislative changes, we are also presenting a 50-state series analyzing how each jurisdiction treats hemp-derived cannabidiol (Hemp CBD). Today we turn to Vermont.

Vermont first passed legislation allowing for the production of hemp in June 2013. In July 2018, Vermont lawmakers amended Vermont’s Hemp laws in anticipation of the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. According to the USDA’s webpage that tracks the status of each state’s hemp plan, Vermont will continue to operate under the 2014 Farm Bill. Hemp Grower was able to uncover additional details on the hemp situation in Vermont:

“The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets wanted to assure Vermont’s farmers for the 2020 growing season that they [can] continue to cultivate hemp as they had in 2019,” the agency’s chief policy enforcement officer Stephanie Ann Smith tells Hemp Grower. “The agency also hopes that Congress will take action to allow for the identification of hemp varieties through genetic testing and/or increase total THC from 0.3% to 1%.”

Vermont joins a number of other states that are choosing not to regulate hemp under the USDA’s interim rules. Remember, the 2014 Farm Bill expires October 31, 2020 meaning that there could be an uncertain future for Vermont hemp growers this fall.  Currently, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (AAFM) licenses hemp producers and processors. To find out more about the AAFM’s position on the USDA’s interim rules, check out the agency’s comments from January 27, 2020.

Vermont’s hemp rules cover license applications, recordkeeping, reporting, transferring, testing, disposal, labeling, and a whole host of other items related to the cultivation of hemp and the manufacturing of hemp products. For an overview, AAFM provides a presentation on its hemp program online.

Vermont law defines “hemp products” or “hemp-infused products” as “all products with the federally defined tetrahydrocannabinol concentration level for hemp derived from, or made by, processing hemp plants or plant parts, that are prepared in a form available for commercial sale, including cosmetics, personal care products, food intended for animal or human consumption, cloth, cordage, fiber, fuel, paint, paper, construction materials, plastics, and any product containing one or more hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol.” 6 V.S.A. § 562.

The AAFM’s hemp rules impose labeling requirements on hemp products, including Hemp CBD. All hemp products produced in Vermont must be labeled and traceable to a certificate of analysis for all cannabinoid content label guarantees and must contain the following:

  • The name and principal mailing address of the processor of the hemp product or hemp-infused product;
  • A statement that the product contains ingredients that are derived from “hemp;”
  • An accurate statement of the quantity of the content in weight, measure, or numerical count;
  • When offering a guarantee, the guaranteed amount of any listed cannabinoid contained in the product by serving size measured in milligrams, milliliters, or grams;
  • A statement that the product contains THC, if applicable; and
  • A process lot number.

The AAFM labeling rules only explicitly refer to Vermont products, but out-of-state producers and processors should strongly consider the risks of product seizures and other enforcement action before distributing hemp products in Vermont that do not meet those standards. In addition, all label claims on hemp products that use the terms “whole plant,” “isolate,” “full spectrum,” “broad spectrum,” and/or “distillate” must comply with Vermont’s definitions of those terms. In case you’re curious, here is how Vermont defines those items:

  • Whole plant means an extract that contains water and lipid soluble plant compounds.
  • Isolate means a concentrate that is more than 95 percent comprised of a single cannabinoid compound created by a chemical process.
  • Full spectrum means a hemp product or hemp-infused product that is: (a) derived from a hemp concentrate; (b) contains cannabinoids, aromatics, essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll, flavonoids, and terpenes; and (c) has not been reformulated or has not had cannabinoid isolates or distillates added to it.
  • Broad spectrum means a concentrate extracted from hemp containing cannabinoids except THC which has been removed.
  • Distillate means a concentrate where a segment of cannabinoids from an initial extraction are selectively concentrated through heating and cooling, with all impurities removed.

Finally, the AAFM products the “Vermont Hemp” brand and use of the brand requires annual certification. Kudos to Vermont for protecting its brand.

We’ll continue to monitor all things hemp in Vermont and elsewhere. For previous coverage in this series, check out the links below:

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