USDA publishes directory for DEA-certified hemp testing laboratories

Facing confusion from hemp growers and testing companies, federal agriculture officials have published a list of laboratories authorized to test hemp THC concentration under the new interim final rule.

The new hemp regulations require labs to be certified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to handle hemp crops testing over the legal limit of 0.3% THC, which would be considered illegal marijuana. But the rules didn’t tell producers how to find such a lab.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) directory now includes 37 testing facilities. The USDA said licensed producers should first verify with their licensing body – state, tribe or USDA – where their hemp may be tested.

Hemp farmers, industry advocates and state lawmakers have said that requiring hemp testing laboratories to be DEA-registered will result in bottlenecks and delays because there are few registered labs, especially in remote and rural areas.

In addition, the new federal crop sampling and testing provisions say that:

  • Sampling of hemp flower material must be conducted within 15 days before anticipated harvest by a USDA-approved sampling agent, which could be a federal, state or local law enforcement body.
  • States may submit alternative sampling and testing protocols for consideration if they could result in comparable or similarly reliable testing results.

Hemp crops grown under the 2014 pilot program are not required to be tested in DEA-registered labs. Six states have opted to extend their pilot programs for the 2020 season.

DEA-registered hemp testing laboratories that would like to be added to the directory can email [email protected].

For information on registering a hemp testing laboratory with the DEA, visit the DEA Division Control Division website.

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