Hemp regulations in Vermont to go into effect July 1

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A new pilot program that begins in July will make it legal to buy and sell hemp in Vermont for those registered with the Agency of Agriculture.

The program is expected to ease concerns about federal agencies cracking down on growers as long as they comply with state laws. Right now, the rules are murky when it comes to how the Agency of Agriculture is going to regulate hemp and hemp products.

"The laboratory component of the new legislation establishes a cannabis quality control program from the Agency of Agriculture. It allows us to certify other labs around hemp," said Director of Public Health Agriculture Manager Cary Gigeure.

It will also give growers access to seeds from outside of the state, as long as their supplier is from one of the 39 farm bill-compliant states, which are states that have been approved to regulate hemp for research and development. Regulations will also benefit those interested in growing hemp in Vermont.

"Farm bill gave states and universities the authority to do research on hemp, whether that was market research, genetic research," Gigeure said. "Just exploring the option of growing hemp as a viable crop."

The state is looking to bring more money in by having businesses incorporate more hemp products, one being the beer industry.

"Customers are starting to ask for them and breweries are starting to make them," said Jason Dennis, a manager at the Beverage Warehouse in Winooski.

Dennis says the beer he sells doesn't have CBD oils so the buzz you get will strictly be from the alcohol. As more hemp-based products hit store shelves, Dennis says he still has plenty of questions on how the products will be regulated by the Agency of Agriculture.

"Are brewers going to be fined? Can they get approval for their label? Can they get insurance for their business if they are using some of these hemp products?" Dennis asked.

"From the Agency of Agriculture's perspective it's a unique opportunity to turn some of our foul land into productive land and that's more on the industrial hemp side," Gigeure said.

State officials say they have 316 registered farmers using 2,100 acres of Vermont land. While the program goes into effect July 1, they are still looking at how they will regulate and enforce hemp laws.