Colorado isn't happy about the 2018 Farm Bill and is letting the USDA know their concerns and proposed solutions. This 32 page document is a great read if you are looking into more insight about the Hemp Industry and the many pressures that are placed on the Hemp Farmers, financially and physically.
In this blog we will break down what some of the most profound issues Colorado found with the 2018 Farm Bill and what implications we feel could come if these changes aren't made. One poignant statement we really love:
We love to see Colorado is sticking up for small business and calling out these errors to protect the people who have invested their life and savings into Hemp. One major flaw is the new 15 day sampling requirement before harvest along with 100 percent testing of all registered lots. Here was what Colorado had to say:
This proposal is unworkable for the CDA and Colorado farmers. In 2019, CDA sampled 23 percent (619) of all registered lots (2,712) within a 30-day window available to producers between sampling and harvesting. Under IFR requirements, Colorado will need to collect more than four times as many samples as were collected in 2019, but in half of the time. Hemp is primarily harvested in October and November in Colorado, and such a system would require over 100 sample collections and tests per working day based on figures from the 2019 growing season. "
It's wonderful to see Colorado be as bold to call this unrealistic policy what it is... Unrealistic. For farmers to be able to successfully pull off a 15 sample BEFORE harvest is next to impossible. In addtition, with the requirement of 100% of the registered lots needing to be testing means a surge of additional tests coming into the labs with no guarantee that the labs will be successful in turning around all those samples within the 15 day period. The current time period is about
Furthermore, the expense is enough to have farmers questioning even in the best case scenario how they will be able to make a profit under these new requirements under the 2018 Farm Bill.
Another big issues is the THC threshold requirement of .3% THC or less. There is no option but destruction if the crop comes in over .3 THC, even by a fraction. Many conditions that are out of the control of the farmer can cause the amount of THC in Hemp to rise in small increments. Weather and soil conditions being a huge factor in the amount of THC in HEMP. With no wiggle room, this law could make or break wether small Hemp farms can survive.
Having to destroy acres and acres of profit can be devastating, especially when you have a whole bunch of people who have been working hard to make the harvest happen and are expecting to get paid. Not to mention, the expensive of how to properly dispose of acres and acres of unusable plant material. Colorado could greatly benefit by turning that plant material into revenue from making Hemp Concrete, Hemp Construction Materials and other non-consumable forms of HEMP.
Need we say more? We stand with Colorado in that these regulations are not feasible or practical. The sheer volume of increase in testing samples will put enormous pressure on the labs to meet unrealistic deadlines.
Then there is banking, ahh the banking system with the federal restrictions is something many industry folk can attest to. Colorado implores the USDA to be more clear on exactly how Hemp companies can conduct business and commerce transactions legally without payment systems being shut down.
One large request is the call for unification and clarification on a national level. This would mean rules and regulations similar to what the MED has done.
Rules and regulations have worked and enabled the Cannabis industry to thrive and continue to grow. For the Farm Bill to be successful clarity is needed so business owners can be unified and in alignment with processing, manufacturing, and distributing. Lack of unification can cause people to go rogue and operate in the grey area and try and bend the law. Having clear definition of the law helps further legalization and gives business owners clear framework to operate within that legality.
Here is a wrap up of what policies Colorado proposes are changed that legislation is built to support the farmers.
Colorado is one of the first pioneers of the Cannabis and Hemp Industry and are using the well earned experience to speak up for the industry and for specifically the farmers who risk it all to follow their dreams.
Read the full 32 page letter here:
At SoPhyre we are passionate about people having the power to fulfill their dreams and legislation that supports business owners too. Colorado is a leader in this revolutionary industry and once again takes a stand to have laws that make sense for all involved.
Truth be told, I'm somewhat of an old school weed head. I'm in this industry to serve the plant, and the people it helps. I too often railed against weed going "corporate" and being taken over by "the man", and truth be told, sometimes I still do.
That said, I take compliance seriously, and so should you. Not because "the man" has a moral right to tell the industry what to do, but because people's investments (money, time, energy) and jobs are on the line, and frankly one missing document can threaten everyone's ability to provide for their families, patients and customers (and yes investors too).
Yes compliance is costly, labor intensive and time consuming. But it's less costly than a fine (in Colorado, Violations Affecting Public Safety carry fines up to $100,000, and can be the result of simply not having up- to-date Employee Training Materials/Records), or as brain damaging as dealing with regulators and/or the Attorney General that oversees license sanctions for months (such as when product is put on hold, while they figure it out).
Unfortunately, not all Operators have the same perspective. This is understandable to some degree as often as their perspectives are limited to their individual operations. They only know their grow, lab or store (or any combination of the three if vertically integrated), but any compliance consultant that has seen the internal workings of a couple dozen operations or more has some pretty eye brow raising war stories of relatively innocent mistakes costing an operation dearly in money, time and bandwidth. Most of these mistakes being gaps in required record keeping and document maintenance.
Compliance is more than just reconciling METRC. It's not enough to have SOPs and Employee Training Documents. These documents all have to be up-to-date and reflect reality. If a new nutrient/pesticide is integrated into the cultivation process, that SDS (Safety Data Sheet) not only needs to be accessible and on site but any PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) called out for on the SDS needs to be on site and accessible as well, and it might even require documented training for each person that might have to use it.
On top of that we are now expected to have defined conformities for our products and many of our processes and will soon be expected to have plans (CAPA or Corrective Action Preventative Action) on how to address product/process nonconformities when they arise. If operators don't have these in place, they will need to relatively soon (January 1, 2021), or otherwise they might be facing fines and license sanctions.
Now, it's not all Doom and Gloom. The silver lining to this is that cannabis and hemp operations are being compelled to consider traditional business standards, such as ISO (International Organization of Standards) and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), that facilitate not only compliance but consistency, quality replicability and scalability as well.
The word "corporation" is etymologically related to "corporeal" and "corpse" and essentially means the forming of a body. Being compliant, or having a QMS (Quality Management System), might sound "corporate" to some. But in reality, it's what said body needs to immunize itself from harm, and to ensure that metaphorical breaths and heartbeats that the corporate body takes don't lead to operational versions of strokes and/or heart attacks.
It's not hard to understand that as operations grow in size and complexity their potential exposure to the dangers of non-compliance and system inefficiencies, grows proportionately (if not exponentially) as well. Each new hire and each new task is a new potential failure point both in compliance and quality. Simply put, to quote the late Biggie Smalls "Mo Money, Mo Problems".
Therefore, Operators should not take their compliance, or quality output, for granted. 3rd Party audits from experienced consultants go far inn helping insulate the facility from pain. Document development (or updates) should not perpetually sit on a back burner, only to be gotten to when bandwidth allows. I've seen many a well-intended operator get burned by not being able to produce a document when requested, even though it might have legitimately been on their to-do list. In compliance and quality management there is no cigar for coming close, unfortunately.
So consider this the next time an Operator says “compliance, we’ve got it covered…”, “Quality Management System? That sounds complicated…”. Frankly, we’re no longer in the Wild West like we once were. We used to risk getting guns shoved in our face over a few pounds in a sketchy parking lot back in the day. Now, the modern-day version of “getting caught slipping” is not having your paperwork in order, your staff making a mistake and not managing your processes properly.
So don’t be that guy, or gal. Don’t take it for granted that everyone on your staff is doing the right thing, all the time. Don’t be dismissive about compliance. And don’t take opportunities to improve your processes for granted. This is a hard-enough business as it is. Life’s too short and the stakes are too high.
Ponder on this. You might just agree.