Congress Should Allow 1% THC in Hemp- Will You Sign the Petition?
There have been several recent pushes for Congress to amend the 2018 Farm Bill’s definition of “hemp” to include cannabis that contains up to one-percent (1%) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry-weight, as opposed to the current limit of three tenths of one percent (0.3.%). We encourage our readers to sign a petition sponsored by our friends at Vote Hemp that urges Congress to amend the definition of hemp to increase the THC limit to 1%. The likelihood of this enormous shift occurring is hard to predict. If enacted, this definitional change would result in a significant and positive change for the hemp industry.
We have written extensively about the implications of the USDA’s Interim Final Rule (IFR) on hemp production and, in particular, the “Total THC” requirement. (To read more of our articles on this issue click here, here, here, here, and here.) As a brief refresher, the IFR requires pre-harvested hemp to be tested for delta-9-THC. Additionally, the IFR also requires that THCA concentrations be taken into account. The result is that many of the hemp plants that were previously lawful under state pilot programs would fail a Total THC test under the IFR. Shifting to a 1% regime would resolve the problem that a 0.3% delta-9 THC limit coupled with a Total THC testing requirement is mostly incompatible with a viable hemp market. If Congress does not change the definition of hemp to raise the allowable levels of THC to 1% it is likely that we will witness mandatory destruction of large portions of hemp crops in 2021.
This begs the question, “Why not have a 1% THC limit“? Opponents of changing the 0.3% THC requirement primarily contend that doing so would result in many people growing cannabis plants with THC levels elevated enough to produce a psychoactive effect (ie, sufficient to get you high), and would essentially result in legalizing marijuana in the United States. While we are certainly not opposed to nationwide marijuana legalization, a 1% THC regime would hardly accomplish this feat. Adult-use (also called “recreational”) and medical marijuana today typically contains THC concentrations of 12-20%, with some high-end strains testing up to 25% THC. Capping THC at 1% under a Total THC regime would still result in plants with THC concentrations well below those found in marijuana, and negligible in terms of their capacity to produce a “high”.
Additionally, a shift to a 1% Total THC limit would be a step in the right direction for the “work in progress hemp extract” (WIPHE) issue, which we have written about extensively. In our most recent WIPHE article, we discuss the difficulties of applying a 0.3% THC dry-weight standard to liquid extracts, particularly since any processing increases THC concentrations while not increasing the actual amount of THC. Among other things, a 1% limit could result in hemp extracts that require much less remediation.
It is time for Congress to reconsider the many roadblocks that the new Total THC regime imposes and to redefine hemp using a 1% THC limit. In addition to helping our farmers, this move would help the United States remain a progressive leader on international hemp policy and trade. Other countries, such as Ecuador, are contemplating cannabis cultivation programs with 1% THC limits. Switzerland currently utilizes a 1% THC limit for hemp.
We hope you will take a moment to click here and sign the Vote Hemp petition.
July 8, 2020
This article was written by Kight Law attorney Kamran Aryah. Kight Law represents hemp and CBD businesses in the US and throughout the world. To schedule a consultation with Kamran, please click here and mention this article.