Our newest report for the National Agricultural Law Center examines the different approaches states are taking to regulate hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill. Innovative State Approaches to Hemp Regulations under the 2018 Farm Bill is available on our website here and on the National Agricultural Law Center website here.
Over the last few years, the agricultural sector has been buzzing with excitement about the potential of a new crop—industrial hemp. For years, hemp was increasingly regulated across the country because it was legally classified the same as marijuana, another type of cannabis.
In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act completely illegalized hemp production. This criminalized approach to hemp changed with the 2018 Farm Bill, however, which removed hemp from the definition of “marijuana” and gave states a chance to create their own hemp regulation programs. Many states seized the opportunity. As of May 5, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had approved hemp plans from 16 states: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
In this white paper, we examine the requirements for state hemp programs prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill. Even within these “requirements,” there is room for states to innovate. We’ll take a look at how they’ve done so as we summarize the unique aspects of state hemp programs that go beyond the USDA’s minimum requirements. There are many creative approaches that states are taking in regulating hemp production. We will touch on some of these notable approaches and highlight the similarities and differences among the approved state hemp regulatory programs.
The USDA’s National Agriculture Library funded our research on this project, which we conducted in partnership with the National Agricultural Law Center.
For months, would-be hemp cultivators and processors in Ohio have been waiting for the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to announce when applications for licenses would be released. Well, the wait is over—hemp applications became available online at 12:00 p.m. on March 3, 2020. Normally, the application window for hemp cultivation would run from November 1-March 31. Since the program is just getting off the ground this year, the cultivation application window has been extended to May 1, 2020. Hemp processing applications are accepted at any time.
As was discussed above, there are separate licenses for cultivating, or growing hemp, and for processing harvested hemp. In other words, being licensed to cultivate hemp would not allow you to process hemp, and vice versa. In order to apply for either one of the licenses, go to ODA’s hemp program page, available here. Once on that page, go to the “How to Apply for a License” drop-down. There, ODA walks you through the steps you must follow in order to apply for a license. First, you must create an OH|ID account. This account must be in the name of the individual applicant, principal researcher and/or the individual who is authorized to sign on behalf of the business—be that the farm or a processing facility. An email address and phone number for that person must also be included. After creating your OH|ID account, sign into it. After signing in, you can return to ODA’s hemp program page and go back to the “How to Apply for a License” drop-down and click on the link provided that reads “Then click here to apply.”
Keep in mind that if you wish to grow or process hemp, there are detailed rules you must follow, such as getting your sites approved, setback requirements, land use restrictions, and providing ODA with information like GPS coordinates of the land and the number of acres and plants you cultivate, just to name a few. To become licensed, you must also submit to a background check. A fee is required when you apply for a cultivation or processing license, and also annually when you renew your license. Fees are also required for each type of processing you plan to do and each growing location. After you become licensed, you must allow ODA to inspect your farm or facility and take samples. You must submit to testing to determine that your hemp or hemp products are at or below 0.3% THC. Licensed cultivators must also pay fees for sampling and if any THC re-testing is requested.
ODA’s hemp program page also includes a helpful frequently asked questions (FAQs) tab that answers everything from the difference between hemp and marijuana, to how to complete your background check, to how to plant and harvest hemp. If you are interested in growing or processing hemp, you really should read ODA’s hemp page carefully, as there is a lot useful information available there. For further information, Ohio’s hemp rules are available here. In addition, questions can be addressed by ODA by calling 614-728-2101, or by emailing email@example.com.