• • • Amid growing interest in hemp, USDA stands firm on rules
A lot of farmers will give industrial hemp a try this year, the first time cultivation is allowed nationwide, USDA officials predicted. But they said there was no way they could allow more THC in hemp despite complaints that the limit of 0.3% is so low that some growers will be penalized unfairly for a “hot” crop.
Bruce Summers, the official in charge of hemp regulations, said the USDA would consider flexibility in the future on the sampling and testing of hemp fields and the disposal of hemp that contains too much of the psychoactive substance THC. The 0.3% limit is set by law and would require congressional action to change, Summers said during a teleconference. Advocates including the largest U.S. farm group say that up to 1% THC should be legal.
“They are clearly established by statute and not a regulatory issue,” responded Summers, head of the Agricultural Marketing Service, when asked if the USDA would change the THC standard. He was also asked if states could remain under the hemp provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill, which authorized hemp research and pilot projects, rather than the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production under uniform nationwide rules set by the USDA. States must shift to the 2018 law by November 1.