The USDA No Longer Requires Testing For Hemp

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently announced that hemp plants would no longer need to be DEA tested for THC.

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced in a press release that it sought to expand upon the existing scientific and medical research for marijuana in the United States. The press release also stated that the number of individuals registered to perform research on marijuana products jumped over 40% in the past two years, reaching 542 people in January 2019.

"I am pleased that DEA is moving forward with its review of applications for those who seek to grow marijuana legally to support research," said Attorney General William P. Barr at the time. 

"The Department of Justice will continue to work with our colleagues at the Department of Health and Human Services and across the Administration to improve research opportunities wherever we can."  

Though alongside this spike in enthusiasm and interest surrounding marijuana, was also a spike in the desire for farmers to grow hemp, hemp products, and hemp-derived CBD – cannabidiol. Put simply, interest surrounding cannabis had begun to snowball. This spike in interest raised concerns, particularly for hemp farmers, who were required to undergo THC testing on their hemp crops at laboratories registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The fears were that there simply wouldn't be enough DEA laboratories to handle the growing demand and supply of hemp-related products, on top of the fact that hemp crops with over 0.3% THC content would have to be thrown away. Many farmers took issue with this, and in response, the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, decided to halt DEA testing for THC content in hemp.

In the recent announcement, the agency stated:

"We are delaying enforcement of these requirements based on comment received in response to the IFR and in discussions with states and tribes as they pursue USDA-approval of their plans."

"Through these conversations, we have learned that these provisions will serve as a significant hindrance to the growth of a domestic hemp market at this nascent stage.  For instance, we now better understand how the limited number of DEA-registered labs will hinder testing and better understand the associated costs with disposing of product that contains over 0.3% THC could make entering the hemp market too risky."  

The announcement confirms that the halt in testing is temporary and may be subject to change in a final ruling, on October 31st, 2021. Though the pause in inspection will likely be a welcome break for hemp farmers who now have to go through one less regulatory hoop.

Additionally, the move reflects a broader shift in sentiment toward marijuana and hemp and shows the growing desire for hemp and cannabis products is leading the way forward on a regulatory level.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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