Famers in West Virginia are complaining that their hemp crop is undergoing stricter testing than in other states. This stringent testing of THC is putting them at a disadvantage as it costs them huge profits in an industry that is multiplying rapidly.
West Virginia growers are forced to cut their cop before maturity because, unlike other states, the Department of Agriculture in West Virginia are testing total THC instead of delta-9 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
Hemp is a product of the marijuana plant, but unlike marijuana, which has high levels of THC, hemp has lower levels of THC. Thus, people who consume hemp products do not get the high effect.
It is stipulated that the hemp plant should not have more than 0.3% concentration of Delta-9 THC.
Hemp production was legalized under the Farm Bill in 2018 thereby removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. This prompted 130 farmers in the Mountain State to plant 641 acres of hemp crop in 2019.
According to the federal government stipulations, each state is supposed to keep track of land, set THC testing procedures, and get rid of any plant that exceeds the 0.3 % THC concentration.
A hemp farmer in West Virginia, Burn, says that although the measures for testing are strict, his farm will always adhere to the state guidelines. However, he hopes that the government will modify the test requirements. He further added that according to the Farm Bill, plants should be tested for delta-9, but West Virginia and some other states are testing for the total THC. According to Burn, when THC is tested in total, it will always be higher than delta-9 THC.
Most of the state’s testing for THC presumes that the federal government suggests using HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) or GC (gas chromatography) since there are no generally accepted methods of testing THC concentration in plants.
When GC is used, hemp is heated to convert THCA into THC, whose concentration is then tested. Many do not prefer this method as they believe it increases the level of THC in the sample.
West Virginia uses HPLC testing, which does not require heating and gives more accurate results. Farmers in West Virginia are forced to cut their crops early to prevent the THC level going above the stipulated 0.3% while farmers in other states testing for delta-9 can grow their plants to maturity, and this increases their yields, thus more profits.
To be compliant with the state’s hemp guidelines, Burn and his partners test their crops every week. If the plants were allowed to mature, their CBD percentage would increase, but that would also result in an increase in THC concentration.
The state of West Virginia is working in collaboration with other states to come up with best practices for the hemp program, says the Communications director of West Virginia, Crescent Gallagher. He adds the USDA and FDA are expected to release new guidelines for hemp and CBD products this fall, which can be implemented in the 2020 or the following growing season.
Industry watchers believe that hemp industry players like Canopy Rivers Inc. (TSX: RIV) (OTC: CNPOF) and Earth Science Tech Inc. (OTCQB: ETST) hope that the complaints of the farmers will be addressed by the expected USDA hemp production rules.
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