New hemp legislation has been introduced designed to address unresolved issues associated with the 2018 Farm Bill, including THC limits.
Hemp has been legal in the USA since the 2018 Farm Bill and is defined as Cannabis sativa L. with a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent by dry weight. Above 0.3 percent and cannabis is considered marijuana, which remains illegal at a federal level.
This poses a number of challenges for the country’s hemp farmers. It restricts the choice of varieties they can grow, and even among particularly lower THC strains there is the risk of crops going “hot”, meaning the crop needs to be destroyed. Depending on the circumstances, a farmer may also face criminal charges.
There is also the issue of THC levels temporarily increasing while hemp is being processed into a final product below 0.3 percent.
The 0.3 per cent THC limit puts farmers at a disadvantage in terms of competitiveness. In some jurisdictions around the world, legal hemp THC levels are considerably higher. For example, in Western Australia, the maximum THC level is 1 per cent.
Early this week, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree introduced the Hemp Advancement Act of 2022, which seeks to improve the 2018 Farm Bill’s hemp provisions.
“I am introducing The Hemp Advancement Act of 2022 to eliminate unworkable testing requirements, set reasonable THC thresholds for producers and processors while protecting consumers, and end the discriminatory policy that bans people with drug convictions from growing legal hemp,” said Congresswoman Pingree.
The Act would raise the allowable THC threshold for hemp and in-process hemp extract to 1%. It would also provide additional protections for the processing and transportation of “hot” hemp, remove the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) monopoly on registering hemp testing laboratories and repeal the ban preventing most persons with a felony drug-related conviction from obtaining a hemp license.
Additionally, the Act would revise the legal THC threshold for consumable hemp products from 0.3 % delta-9 THC to 0.3% total THC, addressing the thorny issue of delta-8 THC.
Pingree’s Hemp Advancement Act of 2022 has already gathered significant support from within the industry, including the Hemp Roundtable.
“We are deeply grateful to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for her strong leadership in spearheading this legislation on behalf of hemp growers, processors, and consumers nationwide,” said the organisation.