The USDA's second round for the IFR comment period deadline was on October 8, 2020. IHEMPAWA submitted comments in collaboration with Dr. David Gang, Director of The Institute of Biological Chemistry at Washington State University (WSU) and the Association of Western Hemp Professional (AWHP)
Re: Second Comments on USDA AMS Interim Final Rule Establishing a Domestic Hemp Production Program; Submitted by the Industrial Hemp Association of WA in conjunction with the Association of Western Hemp Professionals.
I am contacting you again to comment as Bonny Jo Peterson, Executive Director of the Industrial Hemp Association of WA(IHEMPAWA) on behalf of our members. IHEMPAWA is a Washington State Hemp Trade Association started in 2017 and were part of a work group of WSDA representatives, legislators and members who spent a year writing the Washington Hemp Commodity Program legislation signed into law on April 26, 2019. We are also founding members of the newly-formed hemp industry trade group, the Association of Western Hemp Professionals (AWHP). Beyond our official comments, we are in support of comments submitted by Washington State University (WSU) Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), Oregon State University (OSU) Global Hemp Innovation Center and the National Farm Bureau.
The data and comments from *WSU below were based on Washington State hemp trials which were organized and directed by IHEMPAWA and it’s members on the farm level. Member farmers in WA volunteered to grow for the WSU trials using their labor and resources with genetics donated by member breeders. We had 5 of 7 trial fields which ranged from 1/4 acre to 10 acres for a total of 20 acres with hundreds of samples taken and tested.
As being among the primary authors of official comments, we cite it as illustration [citation in appendix], the main points of which are listed below:
Our proposed adjustments to the USDA Rules require that USDA develop a program which incorporates the following four critical elements:
1. A sampling program based on using a homogenized sample that consists of 25% -30% flower and the remainder being made up of stem/leaf and stalk.
2. A testing program that is at least 30 days before harvest or a post-harvest test utilizing an HPLC platform for compliance.
3. The sampling and testing Measurement of Uncertainty (MU) has variables requiring a 30%+ allowance.
4. Drying is part of harvesting, therefore we need an allowance to move a crop from field to drying facility prior to testing results even if that entails moving the crop between independent license holders.
The WSU data will show how a 30 day whole plant homogenized sample is representative of the plant in ways the 15 day IFR does not and following what it states with it's short comings is not representative of the plants in the field. A post harvest dried weight whole plant homogenized sample is the truest representation that we can get to with all of the variables at play to show compliance to enter the market with. Post Harvest sampling collection and testing research is being conducted as harvest comes in with data unavailable at time of submission. This research is on 1/4 cup from 1000lb lots and 10,000lb lots of dried material to compare to official state tests in WA and OR. A post harvest test based on a homogenized whole plant sample was passed as part of our new WA hemp program. Under the IFR, we are not able to use the procedure for sampling and testing as planned.
Field sampling and sample prep with so many phenotypes in hemp plants is extremely difficult to do accurately and reproduce with an approximate MU at 30% variability of delta-9 + THCa levels. To get even an approximate representative sample of a field, at least 10 plants per acre are required from the whole plant made up of 20%-30% flower and 70%-80% leaf, stem and stalk. Large grows over say, 500 acres would require more research to determine the number of samples taken. When prepping the wet samples for testing at the lab, drying the samples should be done at 70 degrees F for stability. Filtering out the stems and stalks from the top 1/3 of the plant below the flower is not representative of the plant or plants in the field as an example of lot sizes. Sampling and testing instructions under the IFR Guidelines are incomplete to begin with but we do understand this was a first attempt and revisions would be likely.
After sample analysis of whole plants from one field, it was evident that stalk, stems and flower make up approximately the following percentages after the biomass was divided. (in % by weight of sample)
Medium Stems: 17%
Leaf Stems: 3%
As mentioned previously and by many others, the 15 day pre harvest test is not long enough with testing turnaround time with harvesting and drying issues. Most first year hemp farmers planted late and harvested in late September and will be through October. Multiple hemp samples were delivered on the same day to the WSDA contracted testing labs in 2019 and 2020 causing 5-14 day turn around times where farmers may have had to wait for testing results before harvesting and moving their crops to be dried off the licensed property. With weather issues and uncontrollable circumstances, as the west coast experienced with fires this season, harvesting can require emergency timing or be delayed. The 30 days is not perfect but is possible with proper sampling and testing procedures in place as we learn. The 15 day pre harvest is and will be next to impossible for all farmers. If farmers have to harvest early or late, they can lose yield and income resulting in less tax dollars in state and federal systems ultimately.
Regardless of pre or post harvest compliance testing or timeline, a system with tracking from field to drying facility and to field or storage facility then tested would be inline with all other agricultural commodity testing practices, which all have post harvest testing protocols established. End product use should be taken into consideration.
Without a standard validation protocol, HPLC the current hemp industry gold standard for testing, should be considered as the acceptable USDA testing platform for hemp cannabinoid profiling to determine legal THC crop results. Gas Chromatography uses high heat to analyze industrial hemp samples. This platform is the gold standard for testing terpenes and residual solvents not cannabinoid profiles with ease and accuracy. Potencies can be done on a GC/MS, but the high heat decarboxylates the acidic forms of the cannabinoids and therefore the data yielded are only the active forms of the cannabinoids (e.g. THC and CBD). To get a more accurate potency you would need to apply a derivatization calculation to derive the acidic forms of the cannabinoids. HPLC involves separating cannabinoids through a column matrix. This method preserves the acidic forms of the cannabinoids (e.g. THC-A and CBD-A).
Washington is under our new program as of January 1, 2020 and we do not have the option to continue under the 2014 IHRP due to state statue. Expedited changes to sampling and testing before the 2021 season begins are crucial to our hemp industry in Washington and nationally.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Bonny Jo Peterson
Industrial Hemp Association of WA
(for the membership of the Industrial Hemp Association of WA)
Dylan Summers, Lazarus Naturals
Bill Cyr, Unique Food Works
Robert Cook, Columbia Valley Hemp Co.
Kristofer Plunkett, Cascadia Hemp Co.
The DEA has released Interim Final Rules to bring the agency inline with Implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 and opened a comment period on their Interim Final Rules due October 20, 2020.
This current version of the rules have caused undue panic and misunderstanding concerning crude, distillate and isolate in progress or intermediate processing. Nothing has changed for the hemp industry in regards to processing prior to finished product. Hemp Extract is the finished product must be under .3% on a dry weight basis calculated as such.
A May 28, 2019 Memorandum from the Office of the General Council provided to the Secretary of Agriculture stated that "marihuana extract" is separate from the resin (crude or purified) obtained from the plant and restated in the DEA IFR as follows:
"Drug Code 7350 for Marihuana Extract
The current control status of marihuana-derived constituents depends upon the concentration of Δ9-THC in the constituent. DEA is amending the scope of substances falling within the Controlled Substances Code Number for marihuana extract (7350) to conform to the amended definition of marihuana in the AIA. As amended, the Drug Code 7350 definition reads:
Marihuana Extract--meaning an extract containing one or more cannabinoids that has been derived from any plant of the genus Cannabis, containing greater than 0.3 percent delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on a dry weight
basis, other than the separated resin (whether crude or purified) obtained from the plant."
The Industrial Hemp Association of WA has partnered with Washington State University to launch hemp field trials for the 2020 season. Our planned 2020 hemp experiments are based on priorities set by industry stakeholders, WSDA and WSU. Data is to be collected from this research this year to be provided to apply for grants as well as needed information to the USDA for the Hemp Interim Final Rules targeting sampling and testing for THC compliance including determining a standard deviation or margin of error. This will be a precursor to further experiments on standardized testing for THC and cannabinoid profiling. We have 8 fields with 5 farmers in Washington growing 17 varieties of hemp covering approximately 18 acres. Breeders have donated various genetics for CBD and CBG extraction, tri crops for grain, fiber and cannabinoid extraction, and even a feminized fiber/CBG variety. All but 1 field is in Eastern Washington representing multiple micro-climates.
Stay current with the new WA Hemp Program and USDA approved hemp plan by visiting their updated website.
The 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law on December 20, 2018 legalizing Hemp in all 50 states! Now there is much work to do in Washington State to bring us in line with the Farm Bill regarding hemp. Legislation has to be passed in the next session beginning mid January to change our state language to open up farming and the supply chain. It will be at least 6 months before the new hemp program will be in affect and new licenses are available. Hemp field GPS coordinates and THC results are mandatory under the 2018 Farm Bill.
The WSDA must submit a proposal to the USDA for approval of our new program. It will be at least 6 months before the new hemp program will be in affect and licenses available. There is a chance the time frame for state laws to change may be after the 2019 planting season begins. Washington's Hemp Research Pilot Program will expire January 1, 2020. The current program rules and regulations will be in effect until state law is implemented and new rules and regulations written and signed off on. There will most likely be a Grandfather Clause for IHRP licensees to move over to the New Program rules and regulations.
A WSDA request for hemp funding was not included in the Governor's budget but is going to be put in this coming legislative session in another form. There are back up plans. I will let you know more on funding and other new hemp program specifics when I have details. Stay Tuned for updates on developments.
Promoting the research and development of Industrial Hemp as an agricultural crop in Washington State as a viable and sustainable ultimate renewable natural resource through the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program. Supporting and educating pioneers in the field while advocating legislation on their behalves. Members share research and resources as growers, seed and equipment suppliers, food and building material processors, organizations and those who dare to reinvent the wheel to fit into our industry. We are building a sustainable re-emerging industry together. We are here to answer when asked, What is Industrial Hemp and what is it used for?, How do I get a License to grown hemp in WA? How do you grow Industrial Hemp?
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