WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two Oregon politicians are asking the federal government change the rules regarding hemp production.
The 2018 Farm Bill included the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, authored in part by Democrat Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. The act allowed for the issuing of a temporary rule that legalized the domestic production of hemp.
After hemp production was legalized, Wyden and Merkley said they’re concerned about unintended side effects the current rules could hold, including the sometimes impossible task of keeping THC levels below a certain “arbitrary” threshold.
“We appreciate USDA’s commitment to hemp producers across the United States, and are pleased by your efforts to grow and support domestic hemp production. 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,” Senators Wyden and Merkley wrote.
They proposed the following rule changes be made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
- Follow the Oregon model and extend the timeline for testing before harvest to a more realistic timeframe, and provide a reasonable timeframe for post-testing harvest, citing concerns that the proposed requirement of 15 days will be an impossible obstacle for growers to overcome;
- Remove the requirement that testing labs must be Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-registered, as hemp is a legal commodity and not subject to DEA, and such requirements would also cause unnecessary delays;
- Allow testing for delta-9 THC using methods that do not involve the application of heat or decarboxylation, and to remove all requirements for converting THCA into THC, as the 2018 Farm Bill allows for flexibility in testing methods by allowing “other similarly reliable methods”;
- Follow Oregon’s pre-harvest sampling protocol that a “sample shall be obtained from flowering tops when flowering tops are present, and shall be approximately 8 inches in length,” rather than requiring a sample from the flower or bud located at the top one-third of the plant;
- Set a negligence threshold greater than 1% for THC content—if one must be set—as the interim rule’s current threshold at 0.5% is arbitrary and far too low: A reasonably prudent hemp producer could take the necessary steps and precautions to produce hemp—such as using certified seed, using seed that has reliable grown complaint plants in other parts of the country, and engaging in other best practices—yet still produce hemp plants that exceed this 0.5% THC concentration.
You can read the senators’ letter HERE.