Reducing Regulatory Burdens On Hemp Farmers
Current THC testing and sampling requirements – while well intended to distinguish hemp crops from illicit marijuana grows — have severely burdened farmers and is particularly onerous to those who grow hemp fiber and hemp grain crops. Pre-harvest sampling and testing protocols are cumbersome and prone to error, frequently leading to inaccurate compliance results. This creates serious financial risks and legal liability, hampering the adoption of hemp among farmers and impeding the growth of the hemp industry.
While many farmers have called for a complete exemption from testing requirements for hemp grain and hemp fiber, some regulators have reacted with concern that, without testing, there would be fewer safeguards against the illicit cultivation of marijuana under the guise of hemp. A solution exists that will provide significant regulatory relief to farmers while still ensuring sufficient regulatory oversight: Fit for Purpose (FFP) licensing.
A FFP structure gives farmers and downstream processors the opportunity to choose a clear, less burdensome regulatory pathway based on the final purpose of the crop, while providing regulators a more manageable and effective mechanism for ensuring compliance with the law. FFP creates nine different license types and provides clear processes for review, testing, sampling, harvest, and drying. With the USDA employing its existing authority to utilize performance-based sampling, hemp farmers with an established track record of compliance would benefit from fewer regulatory burdens, while state hemp regulators would be spared from conducting repetitive and largely unnecessary inspections and tests. Meanwhile, post-harvest sampling and testing will provide a more accurate measurement of THC level for products entering the market while reducing costly issues of non-compliance and remediation.