THC Compliance: The Importance of Cannabinoid Testing
THC compliance stands out as the main concern for hemp farmers in today’s world when it comes to hemp genetics. High CBD yields are essential but keeping a compliant crop that will not run the risk of destruction due to THC content is the most crucial consideration for a farmer. Today we’ll briefly look at cannabinoids, compliance, testing methods, and the importance of having a testing plan with reliable testing partners before you plant.
The U.S. Farm Bill defines hemp as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% total THC by dry weight. THC, CBD’s psychoactive constituent, is classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the Food and Drug Administration and is highly regulated. CBD is non-psychoactive and is not considered a schedule 1 drug by the FDA and is not regulated (although recent CBD patents by GW Pharma will incur regulation). Interestingly, many modern CBD rich hemp genetics derive from so-called “drug-type” cannabis strains that once contained high levels of THC. These genetics were bred over generations to minimize THC production and maximize CBD content.
The truth is that many CBD rich hemp varietals are nearly indistinguishable from their THC containing “marijuana” sisters. The visual appeal, aroma (terpene content), and structure can be almost identical between two different genotypes, one with THC and one that does not. When I first started breeding with high CBD/low THC genetics in 2011, it was next to impossible to tell the difference in cannabinoid content until we submitted samples to the lab for cannabinoid testing.
I assumed many of the plants would have high THC content that contained very low THC and had high amounts of CBD. Testing laboratories across the U.S. have opened their doors to hemp growers. Now that hemp is legal in all 50 states, farmers can mail their samples to labs in other States if they cannot find a viable alternative locally.
Colorado has several licensed labs that will accept samples mailed from anywhere in the U.S. It is also essential to understand your State’s requirements for THC testing. Some States test for “total THC”, which is Delta9 THC combined with converted THCA, and others test for only Delta9 THC. Also, understanding the testing method used by your State can help determine a testing partner. In Colorado, the Department of Agriculture uses Gas Chromatography (GC) to determine cannabinoid content. As a result, Foundation Seeds performs GC testing in-house and utilizes High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (UPLC) via 3rd party laboratories for confirmation and verification of our in-house results.
What does this mean for you as a CBD hemp farmer? It means you can’t always tell a book by its cover. This makes 3rd party analytical testing paramount to ensuring a successful and compliant crop. We recommend that farmers begin cannabinoid testing once the plants have started flowering every 5-7 days throughout the flowering cycle until harvest. Advanced testing can save you money in avoiding non-compliant crop losses and provide you with valuable crop data to help make informed decisions for the next crop and offer it to a potential buyer or processing partners and commodity traders.
We test all our genetics before releasing and provide our customers with detailed CBD, CBG, and THC cannabinoid maturation curves to understand harvest timelines and cannabinoid content. Our founders bred and have been working with the leading hemp genetics on the market and producing feminized cannabis seeds since 2012.
Eric is the Director of Breeding and Genitics at Catalyst BC. Article originally posted on the Fondation Seeds website.