Over the last year, you’ve probably heard a lot about a new crop being grown in Wyoming and throughout the United States. That crop is hemp and unlike many agricultural commodities, this one is highly regulated because it’s a member of the cannabis family like its cousin marijuana. Unlike marijuana, hemp is a low THC plant (less than .3% THC) that is grown for a wide variety of purposes like CBD oil, textiles, paper, building materials, and more. Following the Agriculture Improvement of 2018 (more commonly known as the Farm Bill), hemp became a legal agricultural product across the United States. As part of that legislation, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture now regulates the growth and processing of hemp in the state. A major component of that regulation is testing because it’s the only way to determine THC concentration of the plant.
Hemp testing is new to the Analytical Services Laboratory. Prior to the 2020 growing season, the laboratory spent several months validating a test for Total THC and performing proficiency testing to ensure that our method showed accurate, precise, and equivalent result when compared to methods used by regulatory laboratories across the nation. Hemp samples in Wyoming must be tested prior to harvest to ensure that all samples are under 0.3% Total THC. If Total THC content is greater than 0.3% THC the sample is considered to be marijuana.
When the laboratory receives a hemp sample it is dried to remove excess moisture. After initial drying the entire sample is ground and homogenized. The ground sample is then analyzed for additional moisture content. The THC in the sample is then extracted using methanol and quantitated by chromatographic analysis. Total THC concentration (sometimes referred to as potency) is calculated on a “Dry Weight Basis” using the moisture content, as required by the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, and reported to the customer.
In 2020, the laboratory tested 81 hemp samples. This does not mean that there were 81 hemp farmers because many farmers grew many different hemp varieties on their farm. Of the 81 samples tested, there was a 76% passing rate. This means that 76% of the hemp varieties were less than 0.3% Total THC.
In September 2020, during our 3rd ISO/IEC 17025:2019 audit with American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), the laboratory added hemp testing as an accredited method and currently has 3 scientists running the hemp program.
While, 2020 was the first year of hemp testing, we anticipate many more tests in the coming years as this crop develops across the state. The Analytical Services Lab will continue to provide regulatory testing for this growing crop and industry.
Wyoming Department of Agriculture – 2021