With 40% of hemp testing ‘hot,’ Arizona losses pegged at $13.4 million

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More than 40% of hemp from fields in the U.S. state of Arizona that were tested for THC content proved to be over the legal limit, the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Plant Services Division, which runs the testing program, has reported.

A total of 670 acres deemed non-compliant was estimated at a value of about $13.4 million by the state agency, which seemed unsurprised by the test results.

‘Not unexpected’

“The failure rate is not unexpected based on anecdotal information from around the country regarding variable seed quality and genetic expression for THC content between the varieties planted,” a spokesman for the Department’s Plant Services Division told The Arizona Republic newspaper. Arizona officials noted problems in Hawaii, where more than half of the hemp grown tested above the 0.3% THC limit, and Nebraska, where anecdotal cases of over-the-limit “hot” hemp have been reported.

But Sully Sullivan, co-founder and executive director of the Hemp Industry Trade Association of Arizona, disagreed. “At 40%, that’s off the charts,” Sullivan said of the THC testing. Sullivan said while state officials were sure to find some non-compliant crops, the volume was not expected. “I’m taken aback by that. That’s substantial,” Sullivan said.

$20,000 per acre

Using a conservative value benchmark, Sullivan said the losses work out to about $20,000 per acre, presumably based on the flowers from the lost crops, which are the raw material for CBD.

Arizona officials said the problem is in part due to the types of seeds planted and the state’s hot and dry climatic conditions. THC levels rise faster in some environments, meaning fields must be constantly monitored so they may be harvested before tipping over the 0.3% barrier.

State officials noted that all hemp planted in Arizona originated in states with different climates: Colorado, Oregon and Kentucky.

Threshold questioned

Also, stakeholders have questioned the state’s THC threshold, noting that the testing takes into consideration “total THC” that includes both mood altering Delta 9 THC as well as type A THC, which has no psychoactive effect. They say only Delta 9 THC should be considered in the testing.Hemp stakeholders and lawmakers supporting hemp in the USA have labeled proposed hemp rules from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as too restrictive, and called for tolerance up to a full 1% THC.

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