Different from the cannabis industry, the hemp industry, including industrial hemp, is subject to the federal laws set forth in the hemp regulations of the U.S. Department of agriculture.
On October 29th, 2019 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally released its interim final rule for the production and testing of industrial hemp plant material.
The next step was to enter these hemp regulations into the Federal Registrar, where they sat for a 60-day open comment period. After the 60-day period the “draft” rules were written into federal law, requiring full implementation by harvest season 2021. While today’s draft rules are not 100% final, they are a major step in the full implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.
That’s why it’s vital for all hemp growers or those considering entering the booming hemp industry to stay up-to-date so they can be ready and compliant. While the team at ACS Laboratory continues analyzing the full scope of the new rules, we wanted to start by highlighting procedures surrounding hemp samples for delta9 THC testing.
In this post:
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s interim final rule for hemp flower testing, if a state or tribe wants to have primary regulatory power over hemp production, it must submit a plan to the USDA for approval. State plans must include procedures for procuring hemp samples as well as conducting reliable analytical hemp testing to ensure that it does not exceed the acceptable percent THC level (0.3%).
As of today, several states have written hemp regulations that they have or will submit for U.S. Department of Agriculture approval. Florida in particular, has completed its rulemaking process and launched its industrial hemp program in January, 2020.
USDA hemp regulations indicate that only USDA-approved sampling agents or local law enforcement can collect samples for hemp testing to ensure proper “chain of custody.” As part of their hemp plans, States and Tribes must have a process in place to designate sampling agents to collect hemp samples within their jurisdiction. In Florida for example, designated analytical testing laboratories are sanctioned as approved hemp sampling agents.
Under this regulation:
Unlike illegal cannabis plant material, which contain high levels of THC, industrial hemp flower must contain a fraction of this psychoactive compound in order to be legally processed and sold in the U.S. That’s why the USDA requires accurate analysis of delta 9-THC concentrations through strict testing procedures.
It’s not uncommon for two hemp samples within the same plot to receive different results in testing, That’s partly why licensees may request retests by the laboratory conducting the analytical testing services. However, if retested hemp still exceeds the acceptable delta9 THC concentration, they must be disposed of.
The USDA requires:
If a state does not have hemp regulations in place, or their plan has not yet been approved, hemp farmers can still apply for a hemp license directly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In these cases, hemp growers must comply with USDA’s regulatory framework for sampling and high quality testing.
Federal law dictates only USDA-approved sampling agents or Federal, State or local law enforcement authorized by the USDA may collect and transport hemp samples.
According to the USDA’s interim final rule, hemp farmers are only required to test for delta9 THC concentration. That said, it’s in a farmer’s best interest to test industrial hemp for all contaminants as well as moisture content if they want to produce a high quality plant that commands profitable contracts. Moisture content testing is important because it indicates risk of mold development, which can destroy entire yields.
Moreover, testing for heavy metals and pesticides is extremely important because these contaminants are toxic to humans and can severely reduce the value of the plant. While hemp growers are not legally required to test for moisture content, pesticides, heavy metals or other contaminants according to federal regulations, they risk losing business if they don’t. Once industrial hemp changes hands from farmers to processors via such contracts, these companies will have to follow state level guidelines for testing.
Thus manufacturers of ingestible, smokable, or topical hemp such as CBD products will need to be sure their products are safe before selling to consumers. These rules vary by state, but generally always include heavy metals, residual solvents, pesticides, mold and mildew.
ACS Laboratory’s testing panel and protocol is compliant with Florida’s Hemp Program. ACS meets federal requirements by testing to the standards of Florida, the strictest state. The compliance panel consists of: Cannabinoid Potency, Pesticides, Residual Solvents (unless its flower), heavy metals, mycotoxins, moisture, microbiology.
Contact ACS today.