Hemp farmers in Pennsylvania will now be able to use more marijuana testing laboratories after the state government opened 2 more labs for their use. TribLive reported that the state’s Department of Agriculture and Department of Health collaborated on this initiative to make such services available to agricultural hemp workers.
This move is expected to help farmers comply with state laws requiring crops to have a limited amount of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive property of the plant. According to state laws, crops are only allowed to have up to 0.3% THC. Any amount higher than this will qualify the plant as marijuana, the planting of which remains to be illegal in the state.
Farmers were able to comply with such specifications with the help of 4 marijuana testing facilities in Pennsylvania for processing hemp samples. With the addition of the 2 laboratories, farmers now have access to 6 facilities and 9 out-of-state laboratories which permitted PA farmers to use their facilities.
Regarding this development, Department of Agriculture Secretary Russel Redding released a statement saying, “We’re grateful to the Department of Health for helping to make these labs available to Pennsylvania’s new and growing hemp industry as they work to meet testing requirements during a very tight, critical harvest window.”
TribLive noted that Pennsylvania currently has 6 privately-owned companies that provide laboratory services namely ACT Laboratories of Pennsylvania, Keystone State Testing, Steep Hill Pennsylvania, PCR Labs, US Cannalytics, and Budding Analytical Laboratory.
Only one of these companies are located in the southern part of the state. ACT Laboratories have a location in Trafford. The lab did not respond to TribLive’s request for comment.
The new laboratories come as a welcome addition for PA agricultural workers. According to Erica McBride-Stark, executive director of the National Hemp Association and the Pennsylvania Hemp Association, farmers have been having difficulty finding labs to process samples.
McBride-Stark lauded the partnership saying that having more options will help farmers. She also remarked that “keeping results in the state should speed up the process.” She did note that prices of lab tests vary depending on the laboratory but she assured that the usual cost is between $75 and $125.
State Health Secretary Rachel Levine is also optimistic about this partnership as it is can make sure that Pennsylvanians will only be given access to safe products. She said, “The laboratories that are part of the medical marijuana program have been key partners in our program, and we believe that they will play a key role in assisting the Department of Agriculture as well.”
The laboratories will be catering to over 500 hemp farmers who tend to around 3,000 acres of land. Through the Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program and the Industrial Hemp Research Act, growing this crop is legal in PA as it contains less THC than marijuana, while still closely related to the plant. Pennsylvanians also have the 2019 PA Farm Bill that funded hemp farmers.