The USDA published its final rule for the domestic production of hemp, replacing the interim final rule that established the Domestic Hemp Production Program in 2019. Washington Department of Agriculture Hemp Program Manager Trecia Ehrlich said the most notable modification is the requirement on how close to harvest a hemp sample must be taken in order to test for THC. The window from when a pre-harvest sample can be taken to the a farmer’s anticipated harvest date had been 15 days under the interim rule. That has now been expanded to 30 days.
“Cannabinoids, including THC, get stronger and stronger the longer the plant is in the ground. So the closer you are to harvest, the more likely you are going to have a higher THC number.”
Any cannabis with a THC level that exceeds 0.3% dry weight is considered marijuana, which is still classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Ehrlich anticipates that not all the rule changes will be implemented immediately even though the final rule’s effective date is March 22nd.
“The first step will just be in the arenas in which we are able to relax some of the rules because of the updated USDA plan. We will do so prior to our upcoming harvest to make life simpler. Then we will spend time over the next year [or] year and a half really analyzing how our harvest went and making the final rule happen.”
WSDA’s Hemp Program is planning a four part webinar starting Wednesday, March 17th.
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