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The Standards the USDA Sets for CBD and Hemp Products

The cannabis and hemp plants are getting a lot of attention as the use of CBD based products—and the cultivation and production of the plant—increases.

The 2018 Farm Bill[1] addressed the need for a regulatory framework to establish national standards for hemp production in the country. In response to growing demand for CBD oil and hemp products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)[2] introduced various developing programs and regulations to set a standard.



usda hemp

Legal THC Levels for Cannabis Plant Production


The 2018 Farm Bill introduced several restrictions for the legal production of the hemp plant. One of the main conditions is that cultivated hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.

Any plant specimen that shows more than 0.3% THC will be classified as non-hemp cannabis under federal law. Farmers whose crops repeatedly show THC levels above 0.5% can be suspended indefinitely.

The proposed hemp regulations haven’t left farmers too thrilled[1]. Under the USDA rule, they are subject to more risk. Many farmers have criticized the rule for being too strict, as it is impossible to get intoxicated on THC levels below 1%.


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Additional USDA Regulations for Hemp Cultivation

The USDA has also released a guidance document that outlines various other rules and regulations hemp farmers will have to follow to ensure the legal cultivation of the cannabis plant. These include:

  • To produce hemp plants, a farmer must have authorization or license under a tribal or state hemp program[1] or through the U.S. Department of Agriculture hemp program.
  • Hemp cultivation is only allowed within the borders of the states where it has been legalized.
  • Crop potency tests to measure THC levels will be carried out by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-registered laboratories.
  • The sampling of the hemp plant must be conducted at least 15 days before the expected harvest by a USDA-approved sampling agent.
  • The disposal of non-compliant plants must be taken care of immediately and effectively.




Final Thoughts

The USDA regulations offer guidelines to provide a greater degree of uniformity and certainty within the hemp industry and to ensure quality crops and acceptable CBD-based products. However, it’s important to mention here that these are interim rules for a period of two years[1]. The USDA will use the 2020 harvest to test out these regulations and identify any areas that need adjustments.


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