Unregistered labs in U.S. can continue to test hemp for one more year

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Companies that test hemp for THC content in the USA have been given another year to register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration amid a shortage of authorized laboratories.

USDA said feedback from state and tribal governments and third-party cannabis testing facilities indicated that capacity for the 2023 growing season is insufficient, and therefore unregistered labs may continue to offer testing services.

Adjusting final rule

The extension is under the final rule that regulates the production of hemp across the country.

USDA said restricting the market to DEA-approved labs only would would “hinder the growth of a domestic hemp market at this nascent stage.” 

“Due to inadequate DEA-registered laboratory testing capacity, testing can be conducted by labs that are not registered with DEA until Dec. 31, 2023,” USDA said in a recent announcement. Non-registered laboratories testing hemp must comply with all other regulations of the USDA’s Domestic Hemp Production Program, the agency said.

87 labs registered

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services lists 87 labs that are currently registered with the DEA. The labs test hemp for compliance under the federal THC limit of 0.3%. Stakeholders and some lawmakers have meanwhile proposed raising that limit to 1.0%.

Also under the USDA final rule, plants that express more than 0.3% THC must be destroyed or remediated through approved means, but the level for a “negligent violation” that could result in criminal drug charges is 1.0%. The harvest window is 30 calendar days after sampling, to take into account variables such as testing, weather, agricultural practices and equipment delays, according to the regulations.

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