NIHC recently spoke with Mackenzie Schoonmaker (at right), Principal, BEVERIDGE & DIAMOND PC, to discuss how they are helping businesses make their way through the complexity of state and federal laws to achieve their goals in the industrial hemp space. Beveridge & Diamond is also a sponsor of NIHC’s 2021 Hemp Business Summit, November 14-16 in Washington DC. Here is what she had to share.

How did you or your firm come to be members of NIHC?

Beveridge & Diamond has a decades-long practice supporting businesses in the agriculture industry on environmental issues. With the legalization of hemp in the U.S. in 2018, it was a no-brainer to evolve our practice to support hemp producers. As we evaluated associations to join to support our growing practice, NIHC was an obvious choice given its focus on growers of industrial hemp.

What value do you see being a part of this organization?

NIHC has given us several opportunities to speak at conferences, present webinars, and publish articles and blog posts on federal and state-level environmental issues facing the hemp industry. For example, during our first year of membership in 2019, we had the privilege of presenting at the 2019 NIHC Hemp Business Summit. NIHC has also helped us expand our relationships in the hemp industry, and more importantly, given us the chance to learn directly from hemp producers about what challenges are top of mind for them so that we can better serve our clients. B&D is excited to be a sponsor of the upcoming 2021 NIHC Hemp Business Summit.

Tell us about your firm.

B&D’s more than 120 lawyers across the U.S. focus on environmental and natural resources law and litigation. We help clients around the world resolve critical environmental and sustainability issues relating to their products, facilities, and operations.

What is the nature of your work within the Industrial Hemp industry?

B&D’s Industrial Hemp & Cannabis industry group assists growers, manufacturers, and suppliers of cannabis and cannabis products and ancillary businesses that support the industry (such as product packaging suppliers and manufacturers of fertilizers, pesticides, and plant nutrients) with federal and state-level environmental compliance, product liability, project planning, environmental risk avoidance, and, when appropriate, litigation and defense against state-level environmental enforcement actions. For example, we advised a bast fiber producer on environmental regulations regarding hemp seeds, and for an agricultural organization we drafted comments on the on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Interim Final Regulations on the Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program.

What do you see are the biggest obstacles and opportunities for the hemp industry?

As the hemp industry expands, it will have to navigate a complex framework of U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and other federal and state level requirements. We expect the hemp industry, like comparable industries, will become a highly regulated space.

However, the opportunities that are fueling this expansion will only increase. As companies respond to growing consumer demands for sustainably-sourced materials, clothing and textile manufacturers are turning to using hemp in their products. With the threat of climate change, climate-smart agriculture (such as hemp) is even more important. And, hemp-derived CBD products are becoming more pervasive, as scientific research is ongoing regarding CBD’s potential to treat various health issues.

Where do you see the industry in 5 years, either from a regulatory or business aspect, or both? How will you or the firm have a role in that development?

As noted above, we believe the industry will only continue to grow (pardon the pun!) into a ubiquitous industry subject to the same regulations as other agricultural products. Given our deep experience supporting the ag industry on environmental, health, and safety issues, B&D is well-positioned to help hemp businesses anticipate and comply with those environmental regulations without hindering business operations and growth.

Any other comments that NIHC members should know about you?

B&D regularly publishes news alerts about environmental developments relevant to the hemp industry, and you may sign up to receive them here. We welcome the opportunity to meet more NIHC members and hope you don’t hesitate to reach out!

You can reach the firm at https://www.bdlaw.com.