- The USDA recently released interim final regulations for the hemp industry.
- Some of the regulations’ recommendations include testing within 15 prior to cultivation and giving a 1% THC threshold.
The public has been pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to step up and establish some regulations for the new hemp industry, considering that it became legal in December last year. After releasing some draft rules, it seems that there are still some people who are unsatisfied, like Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Wyden and Merkley sent letters to the USDA this week, asking for five changes to be implemented in the regulations.
While the senators expressed that they were appreciative of the USDA finally launching a proposal on the regulations, calling the action a “necessary step to establish a domestic federal hemp production program.” However, the senators stated that they had a few “concerns” about the negative impact that the interim rule could have on Oregon’s production of hemp, along with other regions in the US.
The letter, addressed to the Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue, brought up five separate issues that the senators have with the regulations, primarily focusing also on the issues addressed by the stakeholders during the public comment period of the USDA.
The areas that the senators want addressed included:
- For hemp to be submitted to testing within 15 days before the farmer plans to harvest.
- Farmers have expressed that this deadline provides them with far too little time, though Oregon already has regulations in place that require testing within 4 weeks prior to harvest.
- For testing to be performed with a DEA-registered laboratory.
- Senators express that the testing will result in delays for products of hemp, and that the independent laboratories should be the facilities that conduct the tests.
- For the USDA to permit THC concentration testing, but without post-decarboxylation.
- The senators also stated that the goal of legalizing hemp wasn’t to test every single THC compound, but to examine delta-9 THC.
- For testing samples to come from the flowering tops, after they are present at eight inches long.
- The current regulations from the USDA indicate that the testing samples are extracted from the upper-third of the flower part of the plant. The revision would follow similar regulations to that of Oregon.
- For THC limitations to be set at a 1% threshold, if there is any restriction at all.
- The recent Farm Bill states that cannabis can be defined as hemp with no more than 0.3% THC, based on its dry weight. The USDA decided to expand on this limit, offering a margin of error of up to 0.5% THC.
- The senators wrote, “Farmers in Oregon and across the country are on the precipice of an agricultural boom that, with the right regulatory framework, stands to boost rural economies in every corner of the country.”
- Both Wyden and Merkley alike have been some of the most vocal supporters of developing the regulations surrounding the USDA and hemp, hoping to improve the hemp industry after the Farm Bill.