The interim rules for producing hemp were set in place by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on October 31. Farmers and industry insiders have 60 days to publicly comment on the rules to gain insight into these new rules.
One of the biggest restrictions of these rules will be their requirements to test the hemp for total THC content. The rules state that the total THC content can’t exceed 0.3% THC by dry weight. What has farmers up in arms is that this total is calculated as the sum of delta-9 THC and THCA.
The margin of error for farmers is small. Farmers won’t be prosecuted with a drug crime for a negligent violation if they test under 0.5% THC, leaving them 0.3%-0.5% to as an error. However, any crops that are within that region still have to be destroyed.
“There are very few people arguing (for) total THC, not just delta-9. But there are plenty of folks savvy enough to kind of see (that it) really doesn’t make sense that they would only go by delta-9, because … there are some pretty potent THC screens that are below 0.3% delta 9 (THC) that would not, in my mind, qualify as hemp,” said Mike Leago. Leago is the founder of the International Hemp Exchange based in Denver and is currently the COO of High Grade Hemp Seed.
“So we’re left in this predicament where there’s not a perfect answer right now, and I don’t think anybody is out to try and screw over the American hemp farmer,” Leago said. “But this new set of rules is going to make it a little bit more challenging for farmers to be in compliance.
Right now it would take action from the U.S. Congress to increase these proposed levels of THC. The USDA, however, could increase the uncertainty tolerance to 1%.