(ThePatriotWire)- The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it extended the enforcement deadline of a rule requiring hemp to be tested at laboratories certified by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), citing the “inadequate” testing capacity of certified facilities.
In its statement, the USDA said the deadline would not go into effect on January 1, 2023, as planned. At the earliest, the rule will take effect on December 31, 2023.
The delay was based on the input from “State and Tribal governments” as well as the third-party cannabis testing facilities that are experiencing delays in getting their labs certified by the DEA, the statement said.
Due to the delays, the USDA said it was concerned that “there will be inadequate hemp laboratory testing capacity for the 2023 growing season,” hindering the growth of the “domestic hemp market at this nascent stage.”
Those in the hemp industry have long criticized the USDA’s requirement that hemp is only tested for THC content at DEA-certified labs, arguing that this limited capacity complicates an already bottlenecked market and that non-DEA-certified labs can just as effectively conduct the testing.
Earlier this year, Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree filed legislation to make several changes to the USDA’s hemp rules which included repealing the requirement for THC content testing at DEA-certified labs.
At the time, Congresswoman Pingree said that since there aren’t enough certified testing facilities, the USDA should allow testing to be conducted at non-DEA-certified labs that are “perfectly capable of doing this.”
Pingree said eliminating the DEA certification requirement removed one of the obstacles farmers are currently facing. She argued that hemp is an agricultural crop rather than a drug. So while it should be assessed “for appropriate reasons,” Pingree believes that the USDA doesn’t have to “make it so sinister that everything has to be done by the DEA.”