Inexperienced farmers may think the answer to this question is a simple number but there’s much to it than one might think. Since the 2014 Farm Bill’s pilot, many changes have been introduced on how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is measured in hemp plantations.
If you’ve been digging around, you might have found that the legal THC limit imposed by the United States Department of Agriculture on licensed hemp crops is less than 0.3%. More than that and your cultivars will be deemed hot, prompting your state’s agricultural authorities to destroy the plants.
However, 0.3% is a result of a measure that has been changing over time. It is possible for a crop to be legal in one state and illegal in another. The reason for this comes from the measurement method.
In 2014, when USDA allowed states to establish their hemp research programs, many opted for a test that measured only the delta-9 THC in plants—this is the actual psychoactive stuff. Then, 2018’s interim Farm Bill came, and with it, a more restrictive type of testing. The new USDA guidelines not only require a test for delta-9 but THCA as well. This form of THC is a precursor version of the component; it’s not psychoactive and can be found in raw plants.
Many states have preferred to adhere to the 2014 Farm Bill instead of the new one. Colorado, for example, only tests for delta-9 THC. States that are behind on setting regulations for their hemp markets might have to comply with the most recent ruling.
Hemp growers must consider this whenever they venture into interstate business, especially when transporting hemp between states. Fortunately, the USDA keeps track of states and their choice regarding what ruling they are adhering to.