Hemp farmers and industry advocates are alarmed that federal agriculture officials have brought drug enforcement back into the fold to ensure that cannabis produced for hemp in the United States does not exceed the acceptable limit of 0.3% THC.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s interim federal rules for hemp production, released Oct. 31, require that only laboratories registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will be qualified to conduct THC testing of hemp crops.
Industry members worry the limitation could delay THC testing and create bottlenecks, especially in remote areas far from a DEA-registered lab.
“It appears that many of the existing (DEA) labs don’t have the equipment and capacity to service the hemp industry,” cannabis attorney Shawn Hauser of Denver-based firm Vicente Sederberg said last week during a webcast with Hemp Industry Daily.
The rules propose that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may establish an approval process for labs that want to offer THC testing services. Those labs would need certification by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which could be a suitable alternative, according to Hauser.
If the USDA chooses to approve testing labs, it could accredit laboratories that perform to a certain quality, in addition to requiring a particular ISO accreditation.