Senate appropriators on Tuesday released several wide-ranging spending bills and related reports for the 2021 fiscal year that include a variety of provisions related to marijuana and hemp.
Perhaps the most consequential new provision from the Senate Appropriations Committee—at least in the short-term—criticizes a proposed hemp rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Hemp is defined under federal statute as containing no more than 0.3 percent THC, but the agency proposed a negligence threshold of up to 0.5 percent—and farmers who exceed that limit would have to destoy their crop. The Senate panel is pushing back against that rule, however, urging USDA to reconsider that “arbitrary” policy in light of stakeholder feedback.
The Senate report also says that another USDA provision “creates roadblocks for farmers by requiring an unrealistic timeframe for testing” and asks the agency to “ensure that any final rule is based on science and will ensure a fair and reasonable regulatory framework.” Advocates and stakeholders have made similar arguments since USDA released its interim rule.
Several other cannabis-related provisions that have appeared in prior appropriations bills and reports are back again. Those include measures banning Washington, D.C. from using its own local tax dollars to implement a regulated marijuana market and protecting state medical cannabis programs from federal intervention. Additionally, lawmakers continue to flag barriers to marijuana research caused by federal prohibition.
One new section asks the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to add more cannabis-related questions to an annual federal survey of young people. Specifically, lawmakers want to include measures of “consumption of flavored marijuana vapes and marijuana edibles flavored to appeal to adolescents.”
As noted, the spending bill and committee report cannabis provisions largely align with prior years’ spending bill. Beyond the D.C. and medical marijuana sections, senators also called for $5 million