THC testing language in Farm Bill threatens PNW hemp-derived CBD industry

While the hemp industry celebrates the 2018 Farm Bill as a major milestone in legalizing and legitimizing hemp and hemp-derived products, language in the bill regarding THC testing could render much of the CBD-rich hemp currently being grown in Oregon, Washington, and other states illegal according to the federal government.

Specifically, though the language sticks with delta-9 THC as the compound to measure, it requires the use of “post-decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods", which will first convert any THC-A in the sample into delta-9 THC. This effectively tests for total THC, and though much of the CBD-rich hemp flower being grown in the U.S. today has very low, often undetectable, levels of delta-9 THC, in order to attain the high levels of desired CBD (10%+), the THC-A often exceeds 0.3%. Such material will fail a total THC test.

In Oregon, where farmers readily pass ODA-mandated total THC testing of crops 28 days before harvest, the final harvested material may ultimately test hot. This results in elevated risk for companies wishing to ship biomass across state lines. Such material is best processed in-state and only moved to other states once in a federally-compliant form. As always, consult with a knowledgable and qualified attorney when making any decisions regarding the legality of your products.

Now that the USDA has announced that it will complete hemp production rules by August, the pressure is on to make sure these rules allow farmers to grow the high-CBD hemp varieties being grown today. To learn more, including how to contact the USDA and other ways to help, read this call-to-action letter by two Oregon hemp industry stakeholders.

Kris Plunkett