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Congress Moving on Hemp Agenda; Next Steps

House Appropriations Committee Finally Admits 0.3% THC Limit is “Arbitrary”

JULY 8, 2021

Sometimes the legislative process can seem painfully slow, so it’s especially rewarding when we get news we’ve been hoping for; showing us that lawmakers are beginning to recognize both the potential and real-life current position of our industry.

Substantial gains were made this past winter when Congress responded to advocacy efforts by including key parts of the hemp industry’s wish list in the December ’20  omnibus spending bill. Major pain points were then addressed in January ’21  when USDA incorporated them into its final rules on hemp production.  The raising of the criminal negligence threshold to 1% instead of .5, performance-based sampling, increased options for remediation and disposal, and a 30-day harvest window were reasons to celebrate, to be sure.

But the underlying cause of the hemp industry’s troubles wasn’t adequately addressed, and we all know what that is: the unscientific, arbitrary definition of hemp at 0.3% THC.

Thankfully, this is not lost on Congress.  On July 1, 2021, the House Appropriations Committee directed three federal agencies to examine the rationale for the 0.3% THC.  It released a report which called on USDA, FDA and DEA to study the issue.

“The Committee is concerned that the level of allowable THC content in hemp may be arbitrary and pose a burden on hemp producers that is not supported by science,” the report said, echoing the chorus of industry feedback.  The Committee asked the agencies to report back on their study and “issue alternatives if necessary.”

To aid in that study is where Agricultural Hemp Solutions gets to work.  Those agencies and lawmakers need to be educated on the realities of our industry.  They need to know how the biology of the plant relates to its economics, for example, that it’s simply not cost-effective to try and grow a crop in compliance with 0.3% THC.  Not only would farms not yield profitable levels of cannabinoids, they risk testing “hot”, which could lead to crop destruction and prosecution – both devastating outcomes for honest, hard-working farmers.

A switch to 1% THC is also necessary for our domestic producers to become competitive in an evolving world hemp market.  Countries like Australia, Switzerland and Uruguay have already switched to a 1% THC definition of hemp, with others like Ecuador following suit.

The signs are all around us – it’s time for the change to 1%.  You can also provide your real-life input and influence to the process by joining the Crossroads Campaign for 1%.  Email us at campaigns@agriculturalhempsolutions.com

Access the full committee report here.

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