New USDA Rules

Those of us in the hemp community have been operating since 2018 under interim federal rules that effectively created a horticultural high-wire act around THC levels. That is about to change! According to Greg Ibach, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs,”USDA staff have taken the information you have provided through three comment periods and from your experiences over a growing season to develop regulations that meet Congressional intent while providing a fair, consistent, science-based process for states, tribes and individual producers.”

New final rule issue on January 15

The 300-page final hemp rule goes on to detail licensing and record-keeping requirements, as well as procedures for testing hemp and disposing of plants that exceed THC limits. You can read all the details at the USDA website. Meanwhile, here is our quick look at some of the most important changes going into effect. Click to URL:

Negligent threshold for crop desctruction raised to 1% total THC

On January 15, the USDA issued a final hemp rule that will become effective on March 22. In that 300-page document, the feds are now raising the limit of total THC in standing crop to 1% before it could be destroyed, which allows significantly more leeway for growers. Under interim rules, we have been living a tightrope balancing act as we seek maximum CBD levels in our maturing plants without breaching the 0.3% THC limit. With the new, higher threshold farmers will gain much needed breathing room.

We view this as a ‘wink-wink’ by the USDA because they don’t have the authority to raise the THC limit themselves, only Congress can do that. We haven’t seen a COA for any of our strains that exceeded 1% THC in three years for any of our customers. Higher CBD levels means more $$$.

More time for sampling

In addition to a more generous allowance on THC levels, the new rule also expands the time period growers have to test their crop before harvesting. Interim rules directed a 15-day window while the new final rule expands that timeframe to 30 days. This will allow you to harvest crop with higher levels of CBD because the longer it has to mature, the more potent it will become.

More flexibility in testing in 2021

The DEA-registered lab requirement for hemp testing is not going to go away … however, the agency recognizes that there is not a sufficient number of these labs to handle the harvests we’ve been bringing in. So, they are going allow non-DEA registered labs to test hemp until January 1, 2022. Meanwhile, they’ll be expediting lab registration applications in order to get more eligible labs on deck before next year’s deadlines. Hopefully, cannabis will be legal at the federal level by then and this testing under DEA guidelines will become moot.


The new final rule is effective on March 22, 2021. States have until Jan. 1, 2022 to operate under their existing state plans approved by the USDA. After decades of being banned, hemp continues to emerge as a profitable crop in North America and regulation needs to keep pace. This final rule is an important step forward that we hope will be followed by additional steps in the direction of more common sense in the hemp regulatory environment. Happy growing in 2021! From your team at Cheyenne Mountain Seed Company!

2020 Hemp Growers Survey

We’ve said it many times: the hemp industry in the US is so new, we’re still trying to grow our information and insight so that we can serve our customers better going forward. Would you be kind enough to click here and take about 4-6 minutes to answer 20 super easy questions? We will share the results back with everyone in a next months email. Thank you in advance!

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