USDA Won’t Increase THC Limit On Hemp Despite Requests From Farmers And Lawmakers

The USDA made the statement on Thursday

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Thursday that it will not be amending its proposed rules for hemp to increase the allowable THC limit, arguing that only Congress can change that specific policy.

The department is open to tweaking other aspects of hemp rules that stakeholders have complained about, however, and officials announced they will be opening a second public comment period following the 2020 harvest season to solicit more input on the current interim final rule before issuing final regulations.

Lawmakers and industry stakeholders have made numerous appeals to the department to change its regulations on how much THC is allowed to be present in the crop. As it stands, hemp is defined under the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the crop as having no more than 0.3 percent THC, with a negligence threshold of 0.5 percent. Farmers whose plants test positive for having above that 0.5 percent limit three times in a 10-year window will be prohibited from cultivating it.

USDA officials acknowledged on a call with reporters that many have asked the department to increase the THC limit, but they said because it’s written into the Farm Bill, it’s a statutory—rather than regulatory—issue that only Congress can resolve.

“The Farm Bill set forth these requirements,” Bruce Summers, acting administrator of USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, said on the call. “Any changes to these requirements require legislative action.”

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