THC Negligence Limit Raised to 1% by USDA

Cannabis buds in a field with the American flag in the background

By Noah Chen

In a move aimed to protect farmers from potential risk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided to raise the THC negligence limit in hemp products to one percent.

This move comes as a sigh of relief to many who have felt pressured by the previous 0.5 percent THC negligence limit. Yet, many farmers are not quite so appeased, as they see this as not going far enough to protect innocent crop cultivators.

While it’s certainly a step in the right direction, hemp farming remains far from risk-free.

The first thing to clarify is what’s legal when it comes to hemp and THC. The question on everyone’s lips is, “has the legal THC limit changed?” Nope. It is still illegal to grow hemp with more than 0.3 percent THC. This level, and the possibility for THC levels to change mid-grow make up a lot of the risk associated with hemp farming.

Unlike with plants such as corn or soy, a farmer can lose an entire crop of hemp because it contains more than 0.3 percent THC. This leads to constant testing, alongside the possibility that THC levels will increase before harvest. Careful attention to detail, as a hemp farmer, is essential, but so is finding the right seeds and seedlings to ensure your crop doesn’t get “hot.”

How this change also reduces risk

The negligence limit for THC in hemp is the THC percent by weight limit. If exceeded, the farmer gets a negligence violation. Farmers can only have one negligence violation per year, so raising the limit from 0.5 percent to one percent makes it less likely for a farmer to earn a violation.

This lowers risk for farmers when it comes to more than just losing their hemp crop. Too many negligence violations can have legal repercussions including fines and potential jail time. Avoiding those things is really good too.

What’s going on with hot hemp

In tandem with raising the negligence limit, the USDA has also changed the rules surrounding the destruction of hot hemp. Whereas before, farmers went through DEA organizations or law enforcement officials, new opportunities are now becoming available.

On top of this, “guilty” plants can now get blended into biomass material below the legal limit balancing out the part that’s hot. This prevents the loss of an entire crop. This all may make the destruction process for hot hemp more efficient and fair.

In a last bit of good news, the time required to test hemp, pre-harvest, just increased from 15 days to 30.

Are these changes enough?

While the latest changes put in place by the USDA seem to help farmers across the board, many farmers still feel they don’t go far enough. The 0.3 percent legal THC limit still creates what many see as an unnecessary risk in hemp farming, and the process around hemp testing still needs streamlining.

That said, what’s already changing should give hemp farmers some breathing room while they wait for even more comprehensive changes.

Why this information matters

Being a successful hemp farmer means understanding all the ins and outs of the industry. Each time a rule or regulation changes, you’re impacted. Nobody understands this better than Arbor Vita8. Our experienced team stays well-versed in all the latest hemp news to ensure our partner farmers have the most successful experience possible. This sentiment extends through the resources and services we offer, making us the best processor for you. Contact us today to learn more.

Note: These new rules are set to go into effect March 22, 2021, but it’s often standard procedure for an incoming president to freeze new rules created by the outgoing administration. You may see a delay in their implementation.


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