The USDA has finally addressed "hot hemp." The decision is great news for the hemp industry.
Although legal hemp may contain up to 0.3% THC, occasionally the THC levels of a hemp crop may unexpectedly rise, rendering the industrial hemp just as illegal as cannabis.
Spikes in THC levels are often attributed to a number of suspected causes, including the climate. However, varying environmental conditions aren’t the only reason for plants testing with high THC levels.
According to a study by Cornell, a hemp plant's propensity to “go hot” – become too high in THC – is determined by genetics, not as a stress response to growing conditions, contrary to popular belief.
In their Final Rule for the hemp industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture raised THC levels that trigger eradication to 1% rather than the previous 0.5%. Industrial hemp standards under U.S. law remain 0.3% but the Agricultural Marketing Service – a division of the USDA – said the “statute [does] not define negligent violation.”
The new rules are set to take effect on March 22; however, they will likely be frozen by the Biden Administration as is standard procedure during a presidential transition for new rules and revisions issued by the outgoing administration.
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