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Will the Senate Triple THC Limits?

A newly reintroduced bill aims at tripling the allowable legal concentration of THC products in the United States along with other industry concerns.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) recently reintroduced a bill to triple the legal concentration of THC permitted in a hemp crop in addition to addressing other industry concerns surrounding federal regulations. He filed the bill days after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules for hemp were implemented. The legislation is titled the Hemp Economic Mobilization (or HEMP) Act and shares many similarities with Senator Paul’s bill at the end of the last congressional session. 

The Farm Bill that legalized hemp and hemp derivatives passed in 2018. Industry stakeholders praised the USDA for jumping into action and quickly creating rules to regulate the market. Still, there’s skepticism around provisions in the bill that many people consider overly restrictive, some of which are addressed in Senator Paul’s proposed bill.

The most significant issue hemp businesses have with current laws centers around the legally allowable THC percentages in a hemp crop. Today, a crop cannot legally contain over 0.3% THC concentration. Businesses say the number is too low, so the new bill aims at triple this number by increasing it to 1%. 

The bill also addresses potential testing requirement issues. Under the USDA’s regulations, hemp processors have a 15-day testing window to test crops and ensure their THC concentration is within the legal limit. Still, farmers claim such a short testing window will be difficult for them to comply with. They have limited testing resources, and external factors impact the THC concentration found in the plant’s flower. 

The legislation would require that only the final hemp product needs to be tested rather than the actual plant or flower to amend this issue. 

Senator Paul’s legislation also sets in place documentation requirements for hemp shipments or transportation, intended to prevent law enforcement from mistaking a legal crop or an illegal shipment and seizing the product. The proposed bill expands on the documentation used to demonstrate the product’s legality. 

Before, legislations required transporter to carry lab certificates demonstrating that the THC levels were below 1%. At the same time, the current bill allows the transporter to present a copy of the hemp producer’s license simply. 

The new bill’s final major reform aims to define a margin of error for THC testing. The interim rules currently in place allow the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) full say in determining the margin. However, the new bill aims to put a standardized margin of 0.075% in place, creating less uncertainty for farmers and giving them peace of mind.

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