On August 23, 2019, EPA announced that it had received 10 applications to add hemp to the labeling of certain products regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). As EPA explains, FIFRA would not require public notice and comment on these applications; however, due to the broad interest in hemp production, EPA has opened a public comment period with a deadline of September 23, 2019. Two comments already have been received, each supporting the applications.
This follows the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) which removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, thereby legalizing hemp for commercial use and production – which, in turn, has dramatically expanded hemp production. According to BDS Analytics, the market for hemp products will reach approximately $20 billion in 2024 in the US.
According to EPA’s press release:
“Given the strong economic forecasts for hemp production in the United States, it comes as no surprise that we are beginning to see pesticide registrants intensify their interests in gaining crop protection approvals for use on hemp,” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Hemp Production Field Day at the University of Kentucky. “EPA is committed to helping hemp growers obtain the tools needed to support and increase commercial production. This step recognizes that innovation in pesticide use is critical to the success of our strong and vibrant agricultural sector.”
The applications were submitted by three entities, all located in California: Agro Logistic Systems, Inc., Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., and Hawthorne Hydroponics LLC dba General Hydroponics. The active ingredients in the pesticide products include azadirachtin and neem oil, the use of which EPA previously determined would be safe under reasonable foreseeable circumstances for other approved crops and for which tolerance exemptions were established under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Approvals of these applications, timed to coincide with the upcoming growing season, will support the continued expansion of the hemp industry in the US.
Hemp is legally defined as the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration (THC) of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Delta-9-THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and thus this legal definition excludes the cannabis plant and derivatives that have been the subject of state-based marijuana legalization. Marijuana remains a federal Schedule 1 drug. Still, EPA’s approval of these pesticide products for use on hemp may help open the door to their use on marijuana under state laws.
Grimaldi Law Offices has been advising clients for over 20 years on chemical and product regulation. For knowledgeable advice and in-depth analysis on your chemical regulatory compliance obligations, contact Grimaldi Law Offices at (415) 463-5186 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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