Processing / Manufacturing

Testing Challenges in Hemp

Written by Colby McCoy

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, budding hemp enterprises have begun to pop up in states across the Union, from North Carolina to Oregon. Indeed, hemp has become a buzzword in the larger agricultural community, where farmers have suffered at the behest of poor crop prices and little to no return on their initial investments. As more farmers make their switch to hemp crops, the question of comprehensive federal regulation becomes an increasingly pertinent one – especially when it comes to hemp testing.

Per the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is defined as “…Cannabis sativa L. or any part of that plant including the seeds thereof and all derivatives…with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” The bill goes on to add that hemp growers must have “… a procedure for testing, using post-decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods.” For a percentage of hemp growers, requiring reliable testing procedures can be an insurmountable challenge since testing methods change depending on the state. Not to mention the fact that it can be difficult differentiating between CBD and THC levels due to molecular similarities.

For one, while there is a legal framework for industrial hemp production, a universal testing method is non-existent, leading to mixed results. This lack of cohesiveness in federal regulation has spelled doom for many hemp farmers, whose crops turned out to be ‘hot,’ or over the 0.3 percent THC limit. With an unmarketable crop, farmers are left with no other choice than to destroy their entire crop and lose out on their investment. Suffice it to say that growing hemp comes with a lot of unanswered questions.

Ultimately, the ball is in the federal government’s court. Until a comprehensive testing framework has been established, hemp entrepreneurs will continue to navigate the murky waters of the hemp industry. That said, this is an issue that needs to be solved sooner than later, especially since the hemp industry shows zero signs of slowing down. Eventually, a concrete set of regulations will need to be in place to level the playing field.

Photo courtesy of Kight on Cannabis

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Colby McCoy

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