Truck drivers can’t seem to get a clear answer on whether or not transporting hemp across state lines is legal? The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued guidance on this topic, rather than a law. The USDA’s recent guidance states that nothing in the 2018 Farm Bill (the bill that hemp growers currently operate under) prohibits the interstate commerce of hemp. This is to say that truck drivers can indeed haul hemp for the purpose of interstate commerce.
The USDA, however, says that it lacks the authority to issue a true regulation that thoroughly protects truck drivers who haul hemp. What does that mean for you? Truck drivers should always have their paperwork, including the THC level test results for the hemp products they are hauling, with them in the event that they are pulled over and/or inspected.
Although the USDA supports the interstate transportation of legal hemp, it has yet to provide official shipping documents that could help truck drivers avoid being subject to detention by law enforcement when crossing state lines.
At this time, the USDA recommends that transporters carry a copy of the producer’s license or authorization, as well as any other information the governing state or Indian tribe recommends or requires that will validate that the transporter is transporting legally grown hemp, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service said in a Jan. 19 Federal Register post. The USDA is not adding transportation paperwork requirements to this rule because it does not have jurisdiction over common carriers or other types of transporters.
Since the USDA is not providing the official paperwork, they suggest that truck drivers carry legal documentation before crossing state lines with hemp products. These can include:
- U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency laboratory test result (or other THC content test results)
- Contact information of the load’s buyer and seller
- A copy of the hemp grower/producer’s license
- An invoice or bill of lading
Though there is a lack of USDA documents for the transport of hemp, what is clear is that truck drivers can legally transport hemp as long as it is absent of high levels of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol (the part that gets users high). Cannabis with a THC level exceeding 0.3% is considered marijuana, which remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance regulated by DEA.
The interstate transport of hemp is legal, but, due to the lack of official documentation from the USDA (or the Department of Transportation,) there are still potential risks for truck drivers hauling hemp.
Since hemp is so similar looking and can even smell like THC-laden marijuana, it is understandable from law enforcement’s point of view why a load of hemp could be delayed or seized in order to test it for THC levels.
A law enforcement officer who pulls over a truck driver hauling hemp does not currently have a way to test for THC content like a lab does. That is why it is crucial to get ahead of any suspicion and carry all the paperwork you have access to in order to prove the legality of your load as we await further provisions from the USDA.