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Home Grown: USDA loosens THC sampling regulations for hemp crops

CBS 13'S April Hettinger digs into the future of federal hemp laws

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - A federal interim rule called the 2018 Farm Bill was formally adopted last month with updated regulations for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) testing in hemp products.

All hemp and cannabis products have to undergo testing for THC levels, but the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule that would give growers a little more leniency. 

Robert Masson, an agriculture extension agent with Yuma County says this will give growers a better opportunity to invest in hemp.

"They've changed the negligence violations if you grow hemp, and if you produce hemp that has a THC level of 1% or above, that's considered negligent," Masson said.

The original law would issue a negligence citation at 0.5%.

The USDA also changed the sampling window from 15 days before harvest to 30 days before harvest.

Masson addresses the problems with the original 15-day rule.

"They may not be able to produce your THC results until after that 15-day period which then you may have already harvested, and if you've harvested it and it's gone hot for THC, then of course, you'd have to destroy that crop," Masson explained.

Hemp crops will have to be destroyed if the thc levels exceed 0.3% because at that point it becomes marijuana.

Additionally, testing does not have to be done at the tip of the plant, where THC is the most potent.

"They've put it back on to the state to design what they call performance-based sampling protocols where you may sample from the whole plant including the lower parts of the plant where it might be less potent or a mixture of the top and the bottom," Masson stated.

This could bring some new benefits to Yuma County.

"I'm really excited about this microgreens because we produce so much leafy green products here in Yuma," Masson said. "So, once we get a set of guidelines in place for growing microgreens, then we can start producing them commercially, then we can include them in salad kits."

Each state can decide how they want to move forward with these sampling regulations. Once approved in Arizona, Masson hopes to start the production of hemp spring mixes in the fall.

News / Yuma County
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April Hettinger

April was born and raised in San Diego where she loved the beach town and her two dogs, Lexi and Malibu. She decided to trade the beach for the snow and advanced her education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

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