Hemp Industry Concerned That DEA Is Involved in Crop’s Regulation

The new interim final rule introduced by the USDA consists of a stringent process of testing THC in industrial hemp. This has created an air of concern among hemp farmers and hemp industry advocates.

On October 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the interim federal rule for industrial hemp stipulating that testing of THC in hemp crop would be conducted by laboratories which are registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

This has brought about panic among industry members as it would create delays in testing and holdups, particularly in areas which are far from the registered labs.

During a webcast with the Hemp Industry Daily, the Vicente Sederberg cannabis attorney, Shawn Hauser, said that many of the DEA laboratories do not have all the equipment required to service the hemp industry.

According to Hauser, the interim rules could have provided for the USDA to create a licensing process for laboratories that want to start offering THC testing services. The best alternative is for the labs to be certified by ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

If the licensing of the labs is done by the USDA, it could grant official authorization to labs whose quality of performance is top-notch, besides the ISO accreditation requirement. However, the DEA labs handling narcotics cases do not need to be ISO accredited.

According to the interim rules stipulations, the USDA would have to oversee all the labs conducting the testing, to ensure that quality assurance and control procedures are followed to guarantee valid, reliable, and defensible data.

Hauser further said that the USDA is requesting for public opinion through the comment system about the laboratories requirements.

According to the interim federal rules, DEA registered and USDA approved labs will be listed on the Agriculture Departments Domestic Hemp Production website.

In an email to an online media outlet, the DEA spokeswoman, Catherine Pfaff, said that the USDA and DEA are working through the details of the testing strategy. She further said that the agency is not releasing information about the labs which are registered with the DEA nor are they issuing a list of the registered labs.

She also said that laboratories looking to apply for THC testing approval should visit the DEA Diversion Control Division website and apply for analytical lab registration.

Frank Robinson, an attorney based in Denver, said that the DEA has 42 mentions in the interim hemp rules while it has only been referenced two times in the banking rules. Robison further said that the rules are biased against the farmer because instead of promoting trade, they tend to ban and restrict commerce.

The DEA involvement in the testing is reasonable because if the hemp crop tests hot, it would be marijuana, which is a controlled substance under Schedule 1, said Ryan Pettigrew, a consultant with the hemp industry.

Robinson was adamant that the DEA should not be involved with the micro-levels of THC in hemp; instead, they should be left to deal with criminals dealing in drugs, such as crystal meth and fentanyl. He went on to say that the testing of THC should be handled by hemp experts who would be working together with the farmers and state Ag authorities.

Hemp experts wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the comments of companies like Neutra Corp. (OTC: NTRR) and The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) include serious concerns about the proposed THC testing requirements.

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