Over 100 Hemp Farms in Oregon Breach Federal THC Limit
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Many hemp farmers in Oregon are growing something a bit stronger than advertised, according to a new report from state regulators.
Recent inspections of legal hemp farms in southern Oregon found that multiple plants on over 100 grow sites tested positive for excessive levels of THC.
As any hemp plant with THC levels higher than 0.3 percent is considered as federally illegal cannabis in the US, the Oregon farmers could face fines and see their crops destroyed.
The findings were made by a joint operation between Oregon’s main legal cannabis regulator, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC), the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), and several other state and local government agencies. Random inspections of 316 hemp farms were conducted from July to September of this year.
Test results from 212 of these sites showed that 58 percent of the samples tested positive for THC (114 tested positive and 98 tested negative). One sample tested at 32.9 percent THC, over 100 times the federal limit.
The OLCC is still awaiting test results from samples taken from 20 other sites. Of the remaining sites visited, 59 had no crops growing, 9 locations were growing cannabis, and 16 locations denied inspectors entry.
While it’s possible some of these sites may have always been clandestinely growing marijuana, it’s not unheard of that low-THC hemp can mutate into high-THC cannabis. The phenomenon, known as hot hemp, is under-studied, but recent research has pointed the blame at genetic, rather than environmental, factors.
The OLCC’s report also observed instances of illegal water diversion, unfit workplace conditions, and animal abuse. The commission said that all these cases have since been referred to the relevant authorities.
Moving forward, the OLCC has said it plans to share its findings with state legislators and recommend that the Oregon’s governor continue the existing embargo on cannabis production licenses for two more years, into 2024.
“You just need to look at the drought conditions in southern Oregon and the intense water issues that everyone is dealing with across the agricultural landscape down there, to recognize that now is not the time to be expanding that,” Steve Marks, OLCC’s executive director, said in a statement.
“We have plenty of [regulated] supply in Oregon. Quite frankly the illegal supply is depressing the markets and the wholesale price even within our system.”