On October 15, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced its decision to postpone the transition of Wisconsin’s Hemp Pilot Research Program to the permanent Wisconsin State Hemp Plan.

The permanent Wisconsin State Hemp Plan is more restrictive than the current Pilot Research Program. For example, in order to recoup some of their costs, the Pilot Research Program allows hemp farmers to sell plant stalks or other components even if their flowers test above the legal THC limit, which is a practice the Wisconsin State Hemp Plan does not permit. This and other restrictions in the permanent regulations could put additional financial strain on hemp farmers whose crops test above the 0.3% THC limit.

DATCP’s decision to delay the transition was made in part because of the Wisconsin State Hemp Plan’s additional restrictions. DATCP’s October 15 announcement stated that the Pilot Program, not the Wisconsin State Hemp Plan, provides the Wisconsin hemp industry with the “greatest opportunity to ‘plant, grow, cultivate, harvest, produce, sample, test, process, transport, transfer, take possession of, sell, import and export hemp in this state to the greatest extent allowed under federal law.’” This sentiment is echoed by many in the Wisconsin hemp industry who feel the permanent regulations will give hemp growers and processers less flexibility.

In light of the DATCP’s decision, hemp farmers and processers should continue to operate under the rules established by the Pilot Program. However, those in the Wisconsin hemp industry should also begin to prepare for more restrictive regulations, which are set to go into effect next year.

If you have questions about DATCP’s announcement or the extension of the Pilot Program, contact Shannon Toole or any Reinhart attorney in our Cannabis Law Group.