The fight for cannabis legalization is still going strong, even in the face of a few hurdles. For one, it’s still illegal on a federal level, which many, including Chuck Schumer, hopes will change in the foreseeable future. However, more states are beginning to move forward with legalization in an effort to tax and regulate cannabis sales within the country. Wisconsin, for example, announced plans for legalization this summer. The state currently allows for the cultivation of hemp but the Wisconsin industry will face a shift in the coming months.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the four-year pilot hemp program in the state will soon be turned over to the federal government. The program began in 2018 within the state and it seems that its success has opened the doors for the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to come on in and take over in an attempt to streamline the industry and make things easier on growers. The hemp industry will transition into the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on January 1st, 2022, which will ultimately cut costs for the hemp farmers when it comes to state licensing fees.
“There’s so many factors that go into it, but our thought on this whole process was we wanted to put the industry in the best opportunity to produce hemp in Wisconsin,” said DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski. “Right now this transition is the best option.”
According to Romanski, the move is in the favor of the farmers. However, it won’t necessarily have any impact on producers and cultivators or their crops. The state’s program is already closely aligned with federal regulations. Additionally, the majority of growers have been in contact with local USDA farms in order to report their crops.
The changes that will occur once the shift takes place will largely benefit the hemp cultivators of Wisconsin in many ways. For one, state license fees will be eliminated in order to introduce a new three-year federal license. Private sampling and testing services will also be available which comes with a $250 testing fee. All testing must happen within 30 days of harvest.
“Because state-run hemp programs must also meet federal requirements, Wisconsin’s hemp program is already in close alignment with USDA,” DATCP’s Division of Agriculture Resource Management administrator, Sara Walling, said. “We are collaborating with USDA for a smooth transition and providing hemp growers with the resources they need to understand any changes.”
A state license for producing hemp plants won’t be required any further but the state’s department will still need to approve of any consumer and food products.