By Emily Ledger
Arizona’s Department of Agriculture’s Plant Service Division recently published a report revealed that over 40% of hemp plants tested in the State exceeded the legal limit for THC. This could be worrying news to hemp farmers, as they could be forced to destroy their entire crop.
The hemp industry has seen massive growth in the US since the introduction of the so-called ‘Farm Bill’ in 2018. Since the bill – which secured the rights of farmers to cultivate the plant within the legal THC limit of 0.3% – cultivation and processing licenses have hit new highs.
US Cannabis magazine, High Times, reported that the results were “not unexpected”, according to an Arizona Plant Services Division Authority. However, the executive director of the Hemp Industry Trade Association of Arizona seemed to have a different reaction.
Executive Director, Sully Sullivan, said:
“At 40%, that’s off the charts. I’m taken aback by that. That’s substantial.”
In the young US hemp industry, crops reporting a higher than permitted THC content are far from uncommon. One California farm was reportedly forced to destroy 10 million hemp plants. However, the percentage of crops found to exceed the limit as significantly as has been reported in Arizona is rare.
The founder and CEO of one Cannabis testing lab suggested that the teething problems experienced in Arizona could be down to the weather in the state. Being a southern state, Arizona’s climate is often hot and dry. Such factors have been known to contribute to unpredictable and inconstant THC levels in the crop.
As the industry was only federally legalised in 2018, many hemp cultivators have little experience with the crop. In fact, the number of new hemp cultivation licenses increased by 450% since 2018. The comparative lack of experience has helped to stir anxiety among farmers who have invested in their new farms.
Some, however, continue to lobby for an increase in the limit of THC permitted in hemp plants in the US. Many suggest that the limit should be raised to 1% – the same as in Switzerland – to allow for a larger margin of error.