FRANKFORT, Ky. - The Kentucky House passed a bill to create new standards for hemp testing and to establish standards for transporting hemp products.

House Bill 236 requires farmers to keep the THC content, specifically delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, of their hemp below 0.3%. THC is the active chemical in marijuana and trace amounts can be found in hemp as well.

The bill also requires shippers to provide documentation to the state 24 hours in advance of any shipment. It only applies to in-state shipments.

State Rep. Matthew Koch, R-Paris, is one of several sponsors of the bill. He said it will help the University of Kentucky conduct more research.

“We all know there was a lot of backlog with the University of Kentucky lab last year, and so by allowing the University of Kentucky to reach out to other labs that meet all of the USDA guidelines, including now the DEA,” Koch said. “We’re trying to speed up that process, we’re trying to allow options so if you’re in far out western Kentucky, you don’t have to bring that product all the way up here. That’s the biggest thing that’s going to help these farmers.”

Opponents and even some supporters of the bill had concerns about the THC limit, though. The 2018 Farm Bill establishes a 0.3% THC limit on hemp products, but there have been discussions to raise that threshold to 1%.

“From what I’ve heard from the farmers in my district that are small farmers, they are concerned that we should have waited until the USDA guidelines come out later this year and that this is significantly stricter,” state Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Whitesburg, said.

The bill passed by a 70-17 vote and now moves to the Senate for consideration.