With the USDA releasing a draft for their rules to approve state hemp programs, states that already have programs are having to adjust. Colorado has embraced the cannabis industry and is the state that currently grows the most hemp. With a relatively mature industry that has been busy growing hemp since 2014, adjusting will take some time.
Farmers are unhappy about the tighter regulations on their hemp. They will have to test their plants much more rigorously to verify that they are growing a legal crop. Producers will also have much less leeway to work with hot hemp, crops that test higher than 0.3% in THC.
The Federal government wants all crops to be tested by labs that are certified by the DEA. Currently, the CDA only has the capacity to test up to 25% of crops, and the capacity from labs that are certified is even lower.
The Rules do offer a range of uncertainty for farmers, allowing tests to come back with up to 0.5% before they need to destroy the tested crop.
However farmers have been pushing for a 1% THC limit on their crops to have more room to work. They argue that the higher level makes it easier to work with a crop whose THC levels can change depending on many different factors. More crops will also be able to be used and won’t have to be destroyed.
The destruction of crops will be the biggest place where state and federal agencies will clash. The USDA wants crops that test too high to be immediately destroyed by the DEA. Colorado right now allows farmers a few weeks to get the THC levels down before they have to destroy the plants. Right now insurance strictly does not cover THC levels as a loss, leaving farmers with few forms of recourse if they go through the hard work of growing their hemp just to end up with a hot batch.