Advocating for a Higher THC Limit in Hemp
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is spearheading a campaign to urge Congress to increase the THC limit for legal hemp. This initiative, part of their 2024 policy priorities, aims to more than triple the current THC threshold from 0.3 percent to 1 percent by dry weight.
Rationale Behind the Proposed Increase
NASDA argues that raising the THC concentration to one percent would enable farmers to plant a wider variety of seed types, providing greater assurance of crop viability while still maintaining limits on THC concentration.
Key Policy Areas for 2024 Farm Bill
This proposal is one of five key policy areas NASDA is focusing on in the 2024 Farm Bill. Ted McKinney, NASDA CEO, emphasizes the urgent need for action in these areas to support farmers and ranchers in producing the nation's food, fiber, and fuel.
Criticism of the Current THC Limit
The 0.3 percent THC limit, imposed under the 2018 Farm Bill, has faced criticism from various stakeholders. A Justice Department researcher recently questioned the rationale for this restriction, suggesting it was arbitrarily based on a decades-old article.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) notes that while there are differing policy priorities among industry stakeholders, there is a consensus on amending the law to raise the THC limit to one percent for compliant hemp.
Legislative Uncertainty and Hemp Bills
It remains unclear if congressional lawmakers will address the Farm Bill this year. However, several hemp bills have been filed, including one seeking to end policies barring individuals with prior felony drug convictions from leading legal hemp businesses.
Regulatory Pathway for Hemp Products
Top of mind for hemp stakeholders is finding a regulatory pathway for marketing hemp products like CBD oil as dietary supplements and in the food supply. The FDA currently lacks a pathway for this, prompting legislative efforts to remove regulatory barriers.
The USDA has been revoking certain hemp licenses for businesses that also hold state licenses for marijuana. This action, along with other regulatory hurdles, is blamed for the hemp crop's value decline since its legalization.
Hemp Market's Economic Impact
Despite economic challenges, the hemp market in 2022 was larger than all state marijuana markets combined, roughly equalling sales for craft beer nationally. The USDA is conducting surveys to better understand the state of the industry.