State senator Adrienne Southworth from Kentucky recently introduced a bill that seeks to increase the threshold for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in hemp and by-products from 0.3% to 1%, reported Hemp Grower. The proposal came one day before the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its final decision on the crop on January 15, 2021.

Southworth, who became senator on January 2, is optimistic that Kentucky can become the frontrunner in cannabis law reforms in other states. Kentucky is already recognized as the leader in cultivation under the existing pilot program, with initiatives in legalization, said the senator. The state has been attempting to achieve legalization since the early 2000s.

Southworth told Hemp Grower, “From the beginning, there was always a clash between federal and state. The 0.3% THC – we always thought that was the best we could do at the time [of hemp’s legalization].”

Senator Seeks to Increase THC Limit in Hemp

The legislation, called Senate Bill 112, seeks “to prescribe procedures for the testing of hemp; provide procedures to include an appeals process; [and] provide options for remediation or recycling hemp when hemp or hemp products exceed the delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration threshold.”

The proposed amount for THC is up to 1%. Southworth believes that “together they would be amazing, but both can stand on their own.”

The USDA Ruling

The USDA proposed changes to the interim final rule (IFR). These would-be amendments are seen optimistically by many and are expected to offer benefits for producers and regulators. Hoban Law Group managing partner Garrett Graff commented, “Overall, the final rule’s contents in some ways show progress and demonstrate the USDA has looked into the industry as part of its public comment proves. In another way, the final rule remains stagnant.”

The amendments by the USDA include changes in sampling, testing, and hot hemp. The USDA increased the sampling window from 15 days to 30 days before farmers planning to harvest. This allows regulators to visit the fields with more time, especially as many officials have commented that the previous sampling time is too limited as they have to collect samples from producers.

The additional time for regulators to get samples is a move toward minimizing instances of so-called hot hemp or crops that have more than 0.3% of THC.

Another significant change in sampling is the performance-based method, which removes the current process which collects a representative sample. Instead, it will consider seed certification processes, purpose, performance history, and type grown, among others.

Testing is expected to remain a difficult process even with the final rule. It still poses challenges when it comes to THC testing as it considers both delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) as part of the threshold. This is because THC produces psychoactive effects, while THCA does not and has some known medicinal benefits.

 Senator Seeks to Increase THC Limit in Hemp

Plants that exceeded the threshold, can now be dealt with in many ways. This includes plowing, mulching or composting, disking, shredding, burning, and burying. Farmers also now have the option to remediate their crops.

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