There’a a new bill on the floor. It could provide cannabis businesses with more flexibility and remove the controversial ban on industry workers with prior drug convictions.
The Hemp Advancement Act, filed by Democrat Representative from Maine, Chellie Pingree offers up the possibility of some critical reforms. The biggest being its request to increase the legal THC threshold up to one percent on a dry weight basis.
The value of a THC increase
The part of this act that addresses increasing THC levels isn’t all about the consumer. Even if THC levels are within 0.3 percent when a crop gets tested before harvesting, there’s no guarantee levels will remain this low.
During extraction, THC levels can temporarily rise. This causes processors to run hemp through remediation to bring things back within legal limits. This adds an extra cost and requires more time to get the hemp ready for market. However, the alternative puts the crop at risk of legal intervention.
The Hemp Advancement Act changes the language related to legal levels. It takes in-process hemp out of the equation. Hemp at this stage wouldn’t have any THC limits as long as the final extract/product contains one percent THC or lower.
Remediation may still have to take place, but will become necessary a lot less often, and without anyone worrying about legal interference once a crop gets harvested.
Also interested in improving workflow when it comes to hemp crop testing, the bill proposes a change to the testing process. It wants to remove the requirement that crops get tested only DEA-registered in labs.
With limited numbers of qualified labs across the country, this requirement, established with the 2018 Farm Bill, easily creates a bottleneck in certain regions when it comes time to test hemp. And, since all hemp must get tested, anything to improve this piece of the workflow could help farmers a lot.
More equity in the workforce
The final component of the Hemp Advancement Act addresses working qualifications. Currently, those with a drug-related felony conviction, within the past 10 years, cannot work in hemp. This is also a provision established by the 2018 Farm Bill.
While, at the start, this provision made sense, it’s confusing now. Hemp is not a drug, but this requirement treats the plant as such. Something like this also perpetuates racial and economic disparities. It can exclude communities who suffer from high rates of drug dealing and other related activities.
Past criminal convictions, related to drugs, shouldn’t interfere with a job in agriculture. Hemp is no different, from a legal perspective, than growing corn.
Since all agricultural companies are facing labor shortages right now, removing this provision would help the entire hemp industry. It would provide opportunities for farmers to meet their employment needs.
The impact on the cannabis market
Right now, the legal limit for THC in hemp products is 0.3 percent. This separates it extensively from marijuana products. Raising it to one percent won’t bring it that much closer to high-THC flower, which inches up toward 25 percent THC, however it may impact the cannabis market.
This is because studies have shown that THC levels don’t always matter when it comes to potency. Consumers using a cannabis flower that was 16 percent THC experienced the same level of high as those smoking flower that was 24 percent THC, according to a University of Colorado Boulder study. Participants in the study all expressed about the same level of “highness” when asked. They also tested at about the same levels of cognitive and balance impairment.
If you don’t need a ton of THC to feel high, and THC levels in hemp products go up, could consumers get “high enough” with just hemp? The possibility could negatively impact the current cannabis market. It’s like trading positive growth in one area of the industry to the detriment of the other.
Watching the hemp industry change
The hemp industry itself changes almost as fast as products on the shelves. As we discover new cannabinoids, create different products, and lean into possible legislative changes, there’s a lot to keep track of. The knowledgeable team at Arbor Vita8 prioritizes being on the cusp of all things hemp. We’ll make sure any new developments get reflected in our own processes. And, we’ll provide you with necessary resources to make your farm or manufacturing business successful. Check out our online resource library or contact us today to learn more.