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  • Debby Goldsberry

The Federal Hemp Phenomenon - A Five-Part Series Part Five: Solving the Modern Hemp Crisis

Updated: Jul 5

Digamma Consulting’s five-part hemp series, The Federal Hemp Phenomenon, concludes by answering the most critical question: what must be done to ensure the safety and quality of hemp consumables? 

The hemp industry has grown exponentially since the 2018 Farm Bill passed, driven by increasing consumer interest in its therapeutic benefits and diverse applications. However, this rapid expansion has also led to several concerns, particularly regarding the safety and quality of hemp products. As the industry evolves, addressing these issues is crucial to protecting consumers and ensuring the market's sustainability. Digamma Consulting is at the forefront of this effort, advocating for rigorous testing and labeling requirements to tackle these pressing concerns.

Concerns with the Modern Federal Hemp Phenomenon

Unregulated Market

The regulatory landscape for hemp products is still evolving, leading to a largely unregulated market. This lack of regulation means manufacturers are not held to consistent standards, resulting in varying product quality and safety. Consumers are left to navigate this complex and often confusing market without reliable information to guide their purchasing decisions. Our blog, Hemp Laws and Regulations, deep dives into these issues, particularly in the evolving regulatory landscape since the 2018 Farm Bill. Discrepancies in state-level regulations and the looming complexities of the proposed 2024 Farm Bill are poised to impose stricter THC testing and licensing protocols. The concern is balancing the need for uniform testing standards to ensure product safety with the desire to establish a robust market for hemp-derived products amid fluctuating legal and economic conditions. 

Regulator Confusion

In the current landscape of hemp regulation, a significant gap exists between scientific understanding and legislative action. Lawmakers and regulators often lack a robust grasp of hemp science, particularly in the nuances of cannabinoid synthesis and the capabilities of lab testing. For instance, Digamma Consultant's Chief Executive Officer, Marco Troiani, says, “There is a common misconception that THCV [tetrahydrocannabivarin] can be easily synthesized in a lab. In reality, it cannot be artificially produced with current technology used by the recreational hemp industry.” Based on this mistaken understanding, Massachusetts regulators pulled all THCV products from shelves. Furthermore, the issues plaguing lab testing of hemp products, such as inconsistencies and limited scope, could be efficiently and effectively addressed by regulators by implementing comprehensive heavy metals testing and screening for synthetic cannabinoids. 

Untested Products and Consumer Safety

The surge in hemp product availability has outpaced the regulatory framework designed to ensure their safety. Many products are untested, meaning consumers cannot know their potency, purity, or quality. This lack of standardized testing protocols poses a significant risk, as consumers may be unknowingly exposed to harmful substances. This is especially true as hemp plants are known for absorbing contaminants from the soil, a process known as phytoremediation. While this makes hemp valuable for environmental cleanup, it also means that hemp products can contain heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals if not adequately tested and processed. The presence of these contaminants in consumer products is a serious health concern that needs immediate attention.

Products Reaching Children

One of Digamma’s most significant concerns with the hemp industry is the potential for products to reach children inadvertently and teens seeking a readily available intoxicant. Hemp-derived products, including intoxicating edible and smokable, are widely available and often marketed in appealing forms such as gummies and chocolates or pre-rolled hemp flowers. Without proper regulations and parental controls, intoxicating products can quickly end up in the hands of minors, posing risks to their health and safety. There is only one CBD product, Epidiolex, that has been adequately tested for use by children, and it is found in pharmacies, not gas stations. As analytical chemists, the Digamma team is highly concerned about the easy access kids have to these often adulterated and contaminated, potentially mind-altering substances.

Digamma Consulting's Approach to Ensuring Safety and Quality

Recognizing these concerns, Digamma Consulting is dedicated to promoting rigorous testing and labeling requirements within the hemp industry. Our comprehensive approach focuses on several key areas to ensure that hemp products are safe, effective, and of the highest quality. 

Rigorous Testing Protocols

Digamma advocates mandatory testing for all ingestible, inhalable, and topical hemp products to detect and quantify potential contaminants, including heavy metals, pesticides, and microbial impurities. Through targeted testing, consumers will be ensured that every product meets strict safety and quality standards. The ultimate goal of Digamma’s hemp educational campaign is to educate consumers about these needs and to create partnerships with accredited laboratories and federal, state, and municipal regulators to create protocols ensuring that testing is thorough and reliable. Digamma recommends that hemp products be tested to screen for synthetic cannabinoids and heavy metals. Testing for just a few metals, such as copper, aluminum, and nickel, could indicate that the product is synthetic rather than natural and may be dangerous to consumers.

Additionally, consuming large amounts of these metals is toxic and should be monitored for their direct effect on human health. “These tests are non-negotiable to establish the safety of hemp products,” says Troiani. “Both have to be absolutely eliminated to ensure consumer safety.”

Transparent Labeling Requirements

Transparency is crucial in building consumer trust. Digamma Consulting supports implementing comprehensive labeling requirements that provide detailed information about the product's contents, including cannabinoid profiles, potential allergens, and contaminant levels. Clear and accurate labels empower consumers to make informed decisions and avoid products that may harm their health. 

Supporting Responsible Manufacturers

Digamma collaborates with leading labs and manufacturers committed to safety and quality, establishing benchmarks for industry best practices. The consulting services offered include guidance on compliance with rigorous testing and labeling standards and strategies for continuous improvement in product safety and quality. Digamma specializes in bridging the gap between regulators and cannabis science, facilitating the development of reasonable regulations that protect consumer health. Additionally, assistance is provided to testing labs to implement validated procedures for analyzing cannabinoids and contaminants. Support is also extended to manufacturers refining their processes to ensure consistently safe outcomes.


As Digamma Consulting concludes the five-part series "The Federal Hemp Phenomenon,” the pressing issue of ensuring the safety and quality of hemp products remains paramount. The rapid expansion of the hemp industry, driven by growing consumer interest and the broad spectrum of product applications, has exposed significant gaps in regulatory frameworks and scientific understanding. This has resulted in an unregulated market, where consumers are often left without reliable information, and products may need to meet safety standards.

The discrepancy between current scientific knowledge and regulatory approaches is a core concern. Misconceptions persist among regulators about the capabilities of lab testing and the synthesis of cannabinoids like THCV, leading to knee-jerk policy decisions that don't always align with scientific realities. For instance, the complete withdrawal of THCV products from certain markets due to misunderstandings about their synthesis underscores the need for more informed regulatory practices. Moreover, the widespread availability of untested products poses serious risks to consumer safety, particularly when such products can inadvertently end up in the hands of minors.

Digamma Consulting advocates for a comprehensive strategy to bridge these gaps: enforcing rigorous testing protocols, enhancing transparency through detailed labeling requirements, and fostering partnerships with responsible manufacturers prioritizing consumer safety. By focusing on these critical areas, Digamma aims to safeguard consumer health and stabilize the hemp market through informed, science-based policies. This approach ensures that hemp's potential as a sustainable and beneficial product is fully realized while maintaining the highest consumer protection standards.

However, small and immediate steps can make a big difference. Troiani says, “Mandating validated lab testing for heavy metals like copper, nickel, and aluminum, and screening for synthetic cannabinoids like delta-8 THC and HHC is the quickest way to protect consumers from dangerous contaminants and synthetics flooding the hemp market.” 

Click here to read The Federal Recreational Hemp Phenomenon, Digamma Consulting’s hemp white paper, and click here to read parts 1-4 of the five-part hemp series. 

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