UACES Facebook Hemp webinar talks CBD legality, THC testing
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Hemp webinar talks CBD legality, THC testing

Sept. 20, 2019

By Sarah Cato
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts:

  • Concerns regarding hemp production addressed in Ag Law webinar
  • CBD, THC testing and more discussed
  • Webinar recording can be viewed here.

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Unanswered questions for industrial hemp production in the United States have the industry watching the United States Department of Agriculture closely as they await regulations, according to the National Agricultural Law Center.

The National Agricultural Law Center, a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, hosted a webinar Sept. 19 to address some of the concerns that have growers scratching their heads, such as the legality of CBD, THC testing and crop insurance.

CBD oil
Although cannabidiol, better known as CBD, seems to be the money maker for hemp producers, there is still a large gray area surrounding the product.

“According to the Federal Drug Administration, or FDA, it is illegal to add CBD oil to food or to a dietary supplement,” said Rusty Rumley, Senior Staff Attorney for the NALC. “And although the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp, Section 297D states that nothing in the Farm Bill overrides the FDA.”

FDA has approved CBD for treatment of severe childhood epilepsy, however states are taking their own approach, Rumley said. Some states are allowing CBD to be used in food or dietary supplements while others are following FDA guidance and not allowing it.

“The FDA says that it is bound by the law, but they aren’t doing much to enforce it, except in extreme cases,” Rumley said. “Initial statements from the FDA said this could take years to resolve unless Congress gets involved.”

On Sept. 17, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell pushed to expedite action from the FDA.

THC testing
For hemp to be considered legal in the U.S., it cannot have more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of hemp.

“The biggest issue we’re facing is the THC testing,” Rumley said. “One of the most critical issues is how do you measure it and what do you measure?”

There isn’t a standard testing procedure, and current THC testing regulations vary from state to state.

“In California hemp must be tested no more than 30 days before harvest,” Rumley said. “Kentucky has a 15-day harvest window.”

Different states also have different requirements for samples that are tested and exceed 0.3 percent THC.

“Some states mandate samples be destroyed if it reaches above 0.3 percent, while others allow for re-testing,” Rumley said. “Growers and processors need to check with their states to see what the protocol is in their jurisdiction.”

Although the goal is to have a simple, inexpensive and reliable test for THC levels, Rumley said there are still a lot of questions surrounding the protocol. Are the current tests accurate enough for a court of law? In cases of interstate transport, whose test results would be used?

Crop insurance
Starting in 2020, hemp will be insurable under the Whole Farm Revenue Protection Plan. Producers can choose to cover between 50 and 85 percent of farm revenue.

There are some distinctions for industrial hemp, however:

  • If the crop is damaged, insurance will not cover replanting expenses
  • Must be operating under an approved plan
  • Must have a production contract with a processor
  • THC levels above 0.3 percent are an uninsurable loss

During the webinar, Rumley also discussed the status of other issues for industrial hemp production such as the labeled pesticides, contracts with processors, and expense and quality of sourcing seed.

Those interested can watch the recording here.

For more information on industrial hemp production in the U.S., visit

For more information on agricultural law, or upcoming webinars, visit

See more of what the National Agricultural Law Center does on Twitter at @Nataglaw.

About the National Agricultural Law Center
The National Agricultural Law Center serves as the nation’s leading source of agricultural and food law research and information. The Center works with producers, state and federal policymakers, Congressional staffers, attorneys, land grant universities, and many others to provide objective, nonpartisan agricultural and food law research and information to the nation’s agricultural community.

The Center is a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and works in close partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Agricultural Library.

About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. 

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact 479-575-4607 as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.  

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Media Contact: Sarah Cato