New regulations governing the production of hemp in Pennsylvania went into effect in 2020.
They are designed to keep levels of THC-the psychoactive component contained in cannabis plants-at levels of 0.3% or less. Under the 2018 Farm Act, hemp with 0.3% or lower levels of THC was removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp is used in a large variety of products including food, textiles, construction materials, creams and lotions, and various CBD products. Under US Department of Agriculture Guidelines, hemp containing more than 0.5% THC must be destroyed inasmuch as its levels of THC far exceed the 0.3% or lower levels that generally distinguish hemp from the strain of cannabis known as marijuana. In Pennsylvania, testing on hemp grown in the state was tested for delta-9 THC, which is ordinarily the most common psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant. This test was found to be deficient because it did not account for the effect of heat on levels of THC .
Under the 2020 regulations, a new test is imposed for hemp growers which will test levels of THCA, a precursor compound converted to THC with the application of heat. What this means is that the old test which ignored the effect on THC levels in hemp with the application of heat-is being replaced by the new test which will cause hemp plants that exceed the legal limit to be unusable by hemp processors.
The unfortunate result for hemp growers in Pennsylvania is that much of the hemp crop grown over the past year could be unusable and thus destroyed. The regulations in Pennsylvania require that the hemp be tested at several stops along the supply chain but the lack of sufficient labs to test the hemp may cause delays in its being brought to market.