Adhering to the national 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) threshold has posed challenges to U.S. hemp growers as the industry works to gain its sea legs after the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill) federally legalized hemp. The THC limit has also been a source of contention among farmers and state departments of agriculture that are working to help bolster hemp farming in their states. And as the Nov. 1 deadline approaches for states to adhere to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) interim final rule (IFR) for regulating the legal U.S. hemp landscape, the issue is becoming more pressing.
The IFR imposes a testing requirement for “total potential delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol content, derived from the sum of the THC and THCA content.” In other words, hemp crops must be tested for levels of both delta-9 THC (the primary intoxicating compound in cannabis) and THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, the non-psychoactive acid form of THC found in the plant when raw). Many existing state programs require testing only for delta-9 THC. Requiring total THC testing tends to increase THC concentration test results, further elevating the challenges of meeting the already stringent 0.3% THC threshold.
Many public comments on the IFR voiced concerns regarding the 0.3% THC limit. Now, industry advocacy organization Vote Hemp has launched a petition it plans to share with Congress, hoping to push legislators to change the legal definition of hemp to containing 1% THC.
Here, Noelle Skodzinski, editorial director of Hemp Grower and Cannabis Business Times magazines, interviews Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra about the organization’s efforts to increase the THC threshold, the likelihood of the limit being raised and more.