40% of Arizona’s Hemp to Be Destroyed Due to High THC Levels

Industry News - Arizona Hemp Issue

Arizona hemp farmers are facing some tough times. The state’s Department of Agriculture’s Plant Services Division, which oversees cannabis cultivation, stated that 41% of hemp plants grown in the state have over 0.03% THC content. Under state law, these crops must be destroyed.

Sully Sullivan, executive director of the Hemp Industry Trade Association of Arizona, was shocked by the huge amount of crops scheduled for destruction, saying that 40% is “off the charts.”

Arizona farmers started growing hemp in 2019. Since December, 53 of the 130 crops tested for THC failed. That translates to around 700 acres of hemp or about $13.4 million in losses.

This issue is not uncommon in a relatively new industry and other states have experienced similar problems. In November, 10 million cannabis plants were seized in South California after tests showed high THC content in the plants, resulting in losses of about $1 billion. However, none have had the failure rate of Arizona.

Farmers must destroy any and all crops that are too loud to hit the market. In addition to losses, many hemp farmers will be forced to pay extra for independent testing to make sure that THC levels in the plants are kept in check before harvesting.

Cannabis cultivation is a tricky business and THC levels are not the only concern. Soil composition, irrigation, sun-all factors play a role in plant growth. In fact, a CEO of a cannabis testing lab said the state’s hot and dry weather can be blamed for the unexpected high THC levels in the plants.

Farmers urge the government to raise the legal limit for THC in hemp to 1% in order to allow a larger margin of error. Reactions from farmers have led the USDA to extend the period for comments to the revisions to industry regulation by one month.

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