MAR 23, 2022 12:00 PM PDT

Struggling to Follow the USDA's New Hemp Testing Rules: LIMS Makes it Easy

C.E. Credits: P.A.C.E. CE Florida CE


The agricultural sector has been through significant changes since the 2018 Farm Bill was enacted. Hemp production was legalized at the federal level in the United States. Hemp production and testing are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA, in January 2021, published the Final Rule that defines important federal guidelines for hemp testing, effective March 22, 2021. The new federal rules provide guidelines on sampling, test methods, measurement of uncertainty, disposal of hot hemp, and reporting of test results. The total THC threshold was maintained at 0.3% in the USDA's final rule. The “negligent violation” threshold has been increased from 0.5% to 1% THC. This means that hemp that tests above 0.3% THC but below 1% THC is not considered a violation of the law. 

Hemp testing laboratories need to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by December 31st, 2022, to avoid regulatory penalties. The Farm Bill dictates that the total THC must be tested and reported on a dry weight basis. Hemp testing laboratories must include a measurement of uncertainty (MU) when reporting THC test results. 

Hemp testing laboratories need to comply with the Final Rule to avoid regulatory penalties. Laboratories need to maintain quality assurance to generate valid and reliable test results and document internal SOPs for testing and retesting hemp. Laboratories should include a disposal procedure for hot hemp. Hot hemp is the hemp that tests more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. Laboratories should ensure representative sampling and homogenize samples before testing. They need to determine total THC using post-decarboxylation or similar reliable methods. Hemp testing laboratories need to report test results to the USDA, licensed producer, and the appropriate state department of agriculture or tribe.

A LIMS can streamline QA/QC processes, automate hemp testing and reporting, and help laboratories easily adapt to these changes.

Learning Objectives:

1. Break down an overview of the USDA’s new rules for hemp testing laboratories.

2. Distinguish how hemp testing laboratories can comply with the USDA’s new hemp testing rules with ease.

3. Explain how a LIMS helps hemp testing laboratories comply with the new rules and stay ahead of the regulatory curve.

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