The 108th General Assembly enacted Public Chapter 916 regarding the growing of industrial hemp in Tennessee in 2014. The Act removes industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana in the criminal code. The cultivation of industrial hemp is not immediately authorized by this new law. The Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is required to promulgate regulations establishing a program of licensing and registration of authorized hemp producers. The regulations were to be required to be developed within 120 days of Act becoming law.
As of Sept. 2014, a draft of proposed regulations was publicized by the department, but not put into practice. A formal statement from the department indicated that it would finalize to ensure farming could begin in 2015.
TDA’s goal is to develop reasonable rules and regulations that will allow for the cultivation of hemp beginning in 2015 and that will support the development of a viable industrial hemp industry for benefit of producers and processors. As in any proposed rulemaking, we will seek broad input from key stakeholders and subject matter experts, and will follow state procedures for providing public notification, receiving formal comments and holding a public hearing (to be determined). Care will be taken to implement a program that benefits hemp producers and yet protects the interests of the general public.
Public pressure should continue to ensure these deadlines are met.