In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) have requested changes to the interim final rule on hemp production. Wyden and Merkley, who co-wrote the legislation that legalized hemp farming, passed along feedback from Oregon farmers, researchers and regulators, according to a press release. The letter cites five key complaints:

  • Testing within 15 days of harvest may be “an impossible obstacle for growers to overcome” because it is insufficient time, “particularly if there are a limited number of registered laboratories with sufficient expertise to perform the necessary tests”;
  • The requirement to submit hemp to laboratories registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could “cause tremendous bottlenecks and unnecessary delays,” and the 2018 Farm Bill only granted USDA and the Food and Drug Administration “sole regulatory authority over hemp production”;
  • “The interim final rule introduced a new requirement, contrary to the specific language of the 2018 Farm Bill, that hemp samples must be tested using methods where ‘THC concentration level reported accounts for the conversion of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) into THC'”;
  • The rule requires a sample from “the flower or bud located at the top one-third of the plant,” but “many farmers will be utilizing the entire hemp plant including stalks, leaves, and stems”; and
  • Setting “the negligence threshold for hemp at 0.5% THC” is “arbitrary” and “far too low” because a “reasonably prudent hemp producer could take the necessary steps and precautions to produce hemp, such as using certified seed, using seed that has reliably grown compliant plants in other parts of the country, and engaging in other best practices, yet still produce hemp plants that exceed this 0.5% THC concentration.”

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