Hot Hemp

There are many reports coming in about harvested hemp crops running ‘hot’. Running ‘hot’ means that laboratory test results on harvested biomass are reporting the THC content at or above 0.3% THC concentration. The Farm Bill of 2018 defines ‘Industrial Hemp’ as Cannabis Sativa L with less than 0.3% THC. At or above this 0.3% test limit you now have a crop in violation of Federal law and probably your own state law as well. Even if your state has a medical marijuana program, as an Industrial Hemp Grower you probably didn’t pay for a medical marijuana permit. At a minimum testing hot means your crop could be ordered to be destroyed and under risk of prosecution. Not a good position to be in.

What can be done?

There are a few things that can help:

Testing– Within a week, at the most, of when your crop begins to flower you should begin to monitor the THC content of your plants with lab testing.  You might delay harvest because the CBD readings are going up, but so is the THC. Once you see THC readings above 0.2% you are scary close to having a big problem. Don’t push your luck! If you are at higher altitudes, you will go hot sooner. A recent study from the Agricultural Research Station at NC State reported that the same strain of Hemp planted in the mountains over 3,000 ft. all ran hot, but a low altitude planting of this strain passed below 0.3% THC limit. Clearly more research is needed, and Cannabis Sativa L. strains can behave differently. So don’t assume similar behavior if you try a new variety of Industrial Hemp.

Be smart about which lab you choose to test your plants– There is a little wiggle room here. THC testing of cannabis for potency has traditionally done using gas chromatography (GC). This technology has been around for quite a while and GC was the discovery tool used by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. In 1964 he was the first to isolate THC and became the father of modern cannabis medicine.

In the GC analytical process heat is used to vaporize the prepared sample which is dissolved in a solvent. This is done to vaporize the sample into a gaseous state enabling it to be run as a gas in the GC.  As it turns out, when cannabis is freshly harvested there are only very small amounts of THC in the buds. There is mostly the closely related, but different compound THCA. THCA or tetrahydrocannabinol acid is converted by high heat of the GC into THC. This conversion of the THCA is known as decarboxylation. Today the more modern lab equipment used for cannabis testing is the High-Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC). This equipment can identify both the THCA and the THC. So, when a HPLC is used, you typically get a far lower number for THC along with a THCA reading which will be higher. States who are regulating Industrial hemp under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 are advising that the THCA test result should be combined with the THC to give a Total THC. You first must subtract 12% from the test result of THCA (to account for the decarboxylation weight loss as THCA converts) and then add it to the THC number.

If you are still with me, this far into the weeds, sometimes the good old GC does not convert THCA to THC with complete efficiency so… there’s some chance that a GC based test will give you a little lower test result. Never a bad idea to try a second lab in any event, especially if you are over 0.3% THC by a small margin.

Sampling protocol– There is a huge variation in the cannabinoid concentration distribution within the hemp plant. A well-trimmed flower bud from the top of the plant will be higher than a small bud from down low. Large fan leaves will contain only a trace of cannabinoids. When a hemp farmer is harvesting acres of plant there is not going to be the kind of hand manicuring on the buds as is the case for the medical markets. So, when you take a sample to the lab your samples should reflect what comes out of your bucker. This is a more reasonable representation of what you are going to send to the CBD processor.

Dilution with low content biomass– If you are very hot you could grind up your crop and include biomass portions that have little or no potency. Twigs, stems and so forth could act as a diluent, but this will lower the value of your crop and some processors won’t take low concentration CBD biomass since it takes much longer to process into distillate.

Indiana smokable Hemp Law Overturned

Federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the Southern District of Indiana ruled on September 13th that the Indiana law criminalizing the manufacture, delivery, finance and possession of smokable hemp is preempted by federal law.

A preliminary injunction only addresses only the parts of Indiana Senate Bill 516 that criminalize smokable Hemp and the remaining portions of the bill which regulates hemp as a legal crop remain in effect.

In a related story from GlobeNewsWire:

Pure American Hemp Debuts at the 2019 National Association of Convenience Stores trade show

Single Point Inc. announced a major success at this October 19 trade show in Atlanta. Leads from more than 2500 leads from distributors, store owners and affiliate buying groups. With their trademark brand ‘Pure American Hemp’ Single Point has set its sights on the convenience store industry which represents over 150,000 locations.

Market research firms estimate are estimating CBD sales to surpass $20 billion by 2025. Smokable hemp is only roughly 2% of this market, but the 2017 to 2018 growth was a very impressive 250%.