In December, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an extension of the deadline for all hemp to be tested for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)-certified facilities only, citing a lack of approved laboratories.
In early December 2022, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the previous January 1, 2023 deadline requiring hemp to be tested for tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) at Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)-approved facilities only would be extended to December 31, 2023 at the earliest (1). The cause for the change was cited as a lack of certified facilities.
“We are delaying enforcement of these requirements…based on input received from State and Tribal governments and third-party cannabis testing facilities who have experienced delays in completing the DEA laboratory registration process,” the department said in their announcement (2). “Because of these delays, USDA is concerned there will be inadequate hemp laboratory testing capacity for the 2023 growing season, which will hinder the growth of a domestic hemp market at this nascent stage. Laboratories testing hemp must comply with all other regulatory requirements.”
Critics of the USDA’s rule point to the current limited number of testing facilities that has already created a bottleneck and that laboratories can conduct THC testing effectively without DEA certification (2). Earlier this year, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) filed a bill that included repealing the requirement for testing at DEA-registered laboratories. “To eliminate this DEA requirement would take away one more obstacle that farmers are currently facing,” she said. “Again, it takes it out of this realm of, you know, ‘this is [about] dealing drugs.’ This is an agricultural crop. Let’s assess it for appropriate reasons, but we don’t have to make it so sinister that everything has to be done by the DEA.”