Hemp agriculture is a booming industry sweeping the nation. While hemp has been legalized at the federal level, the industry still faces regulations at the state level. The variations between state laws can be confusing. However, many states welcome hemp as an agricultural crop alternative with a promise of profitable margins. This guide will help you understand the hemp regulations state By state.
The 2018 Farm Bill
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp at the federal level. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, more expansive pilot programs began to be implemented to study hemp cultivation. Hemp and hemp-derived products can now be transferred across state lines. There are no restrictions on the sale, transportation, or the handling of hemp.
Per a section in the 2018 Farm Bill, legal hemp cannot contain more than .3% THC. A hemp plant that contains more than this amount is considered marijuana under federal law. There are other new regulations in place, as well. However, the passing of the Farm Bill does not allow hemp cultivation at the state level. It is up to individual states to decide their rules and regulations regarding cultivation.
How Is Hemp Different Than Marijuana?
A great deal of confusion stems from discussions of hemp and marijuana, especially with regard to state policies. While hemp and marijuana are terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a stark contrast between the two plants. Marijuana plants and hemp plants are both variations of the cannabis plant. The two plants appear visually similar, but their chemical makeup varies drastically.
Marijuana plants are typically bred for the active compound THC. THC is a psychoactive compound and many individuals report feelings of euphoria upon ingestion. On the other hand, hemp plants are bred for a different reason: for their active compound CBD. CBD is not a psychoactive compound like THC. In order for a plant or product to be considered hemp, it needs to legally contain less than .3% THC. Laws surrounding marijuana are very strict, as it is considered a controlled substance in the majority of states. The hemp industry, however, has seen new advancements and more progressive law changes throughout the states.
Hemp Regulations State By State
Enacted in June of 2019, Alabama legislation removed hemp from the umbrella of THC. This means that hemp and hemp-derived products, such as CBD, are no longer considered a controlled substance in Alabama. Previously, hemp was considered a controlled substance in Alabama.
The department may administer hemp research programs and permit potential industrial hemp growers a license. However, hemp growers need to possess licenses and permits. This agricultural program is still in the developmental phase in order to help Alabama secure more diversity in their agriculture. Until this developmental phase is completed, the growth and production of industrial hemp will remain illegal.
In recent years, more support has been given to industrial hemp production and the products that result, including cannabidiol oil. A pilot program has been created to gain information on the industrial hemp production process, including cultivation and harvesting. Until final regulations are adopted, growing and cultivating hemp is illegal in the state of Alaska.
Industrial hemp farming in Arizona is regulated by the state department of agriculture. Progress has been made in recent years surrounding industrial hemp. The Arizona Department of Agriculture is still in the process of developing rules and regulations. However, farmers who receive the required licenses will be able to start planting. Without required licenses and certifications, farming industrial hemp will remain illegal in Arizona.
The Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB) oversees the hemp program in Arkansas and requires farmers to hold a license in order to cultivate and produce hemp and industrial hemp products. This hemp program’s rules also permit publicly-marketable hemp products, which are different from industrial hemp products. Publicly-marketable hemp products need to be hemp-derived CBD, a prescription CBD medication, or a product that does not contain viable seeds, leaf materials, or living hemp plants.
California passed the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act that went into effect on January 1, 2017. A program was developed soon after to determine the law surrounding the production and create regulations and fees for the industry. These regulations went into effect on April 25, 2019, and legalized hemp farming. Potential farmers can now fill out registration forms.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture has introduced an Industrial Hemp Program that oversees regulations surrounding industrial hemp growth and harvest. The program oversees the cultivation process of industrial hemp only. The Department also has a seed program. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Agriculture requires those who want to purchase farm products (e.g. hemp) to have the correct certifications and licenses.
Industrial hemp growth is legal in the state of Connecticut, as long as the proper licensing and certifications are obtained from the Department of Agriculture. The type of license needed may vary based on what the industrial hemp is grown for. Those intending to make products for human consumption or inhalation need to apply for a manufacturer’s license. A manufacturer license is essential to selling industrial hemp in this form. However, if the hemp is sold as a raw consumable and not a byproduct, a manufacturer’s license is not necessary.
In the state of Connecticut, a different license is needed if you wish to convert hemp to make a product that is not considered to be consumable. This license is called a processor license and is regulated by the Department of Agriculture. Hemp and CBD can be sold without a license, as long as an individual is not processing or manufacturing the hemp. Hemp and CBD products, as long as they were obtained legally, can be sold in retail stores without a license.
The Department of Agriculture launched the Hemp Research Pilot Program in Delaware to explore more agricultural crops. The primary goal of this program was to gain more in-depth knowledge of the cultivation and harvesting processes of hemp in agricultural, industrial, and commercial avenues. With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill as well as the Domestic Hemp Production Program, the Hemp Research Pilot Program is no longer necessary. State hemp production for commercial purposes is now legal in Delaware but requires certifications and licenses. This new program features guidelines and forms for producers and handlers.
Transporters of hemp must stop at agricultural inspection stations and present proper paperwork. For hemp products (i.e. non-living plants), individuals need to present a certificate of analysis and a bill of sale. For hemp nursery stock, individuals need to present a certificate of analysis, bill of sale, and a certificate of inspection. For hemp plants that are alive and being transported, individuals need to present a certificate of analysis, bill of sale, certificate of inspection, and a cultivation license.
The Hemp Program for Florida is run by the Agricultural Environmental Services, Food Safety, and Plant Industry. Planting permits are only available to research facilities and industrial hemp growth is not permitted on private land.
The Georgia Hemp Farming Act legalized the production and sale of hemp, which includes hemp products. Those looking to grow hemp in Georgia need to apply and obtain a license that is issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Those farming in the state of Georgia also need to pay a fee per acre.
The state of Hawaii has a pilot program in place focused on research surrounding hemp cultivation and harvesting. In order to cultivate hemp in Hawaii, individuals need to apply for and obtain a license issued by the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture. In Hawaii, there are restrictions around the manufacturing and selling of industrial hemp products. Growers wishing to obtain seeds can do so out of the state.
A bill introduced in Idaho proposed state-wide legalization of hemp and hemp production. However, the bill lacked support and failed to become passed into law. Instead, hemp cultivation and harvest are still illegal in Idaho. However, there have been progressive steps taken to get hemp legalized sometime in 2020.
An Illinois Industrial Hemp Act was passed in 2018, alongside the 2018 Farm Bill. In order for a farmer to begin growing industrial hemp, they need to apply for and obtain a state license. Each farm must pay application fees to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. After a farm is approved, there are also fees for different licenses, depending on the length of time the farmer wishes to have their license.
Commercial hemp cultivation and harvesting are legal in the state of Indiana due to a law that received unanimous support by Indiana lawmakers and was signed by Indiana’s Governor Eric Holcomb. Though hemp is considered legal currently, farmers are still unable to plant it right away. Farmers need to apply for and obtain a license. Farmers may receive a grower, handler, or research license. Those who grow hemp without a license are considered to be and will be charged for, growing marijuana.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture has processes that assist with plan development for licensing and regulating hemp in Iowa. However, the USDA has not approved these plans. Therefore, an individual cannot grow or possess hemp in Iowa. This includes, but is not limited to, buying and selling hemp in the state of Iowa. It is projected that hemp production will be legalized in time for the 2020 growing season, but the actual timing may vary based on how long it takes for the plan to be reviewed and approved. In order to cultivate hemp, farmers need to apply for and obtain a license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, as well as the Land Stewardship.
In the spring of 2019, the governor of Kansas established the Commercial Industrial Hemp Program in Kansas. This program intends to support hemp cultivation-related research, as well as to propose monitoring strategies and regulations. This plan will then be submitted to the Department of Agriculture for further approval. Farmers wishing to obtain licenses for commercial production of hemp will not be able to do so until the program plan is approved by the USDA. This means that, currently, licenses are only available to those taking part in the Industrial Hemp Research Program.
The Hemp Licensing Program is currently underway in the state of Kentucky. This program contains the applications and certifications necessary to farm hemp in Kentucky. In the state of Kentucky, an individual cannot possess or process hemp plants without a proper license issued by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Those who choose to grow or possess hemp without a license will be treated as though they are violating laws relating to marijuana. However, hemp-derived CBD products are legal in the state of Kentucky.
Licenses for the cultivation and harvesting of industrial hemp have not yet been released by the state of Louisiana. However, the industrial hemp plan has been approved by the USDA. Some rules and regulations are still pending. Therefore, it is not yet legal for industrial hemp to be grown in Louisiana. Only those who possess a license will be able to grow hemp in the state of Louisiana. Those who grow, handle, transport, or process will also need to meet requirements and possess a license issued by Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Program.
The Department of Agriculture is reviewing applications for growing industrial hemp. Only farmers who possess a license are able to grow and process industrial hemp.
A hemp pilot program has begun in Maryland, in order to conduct research on hemp’s cultivation process. This pilot program, through the Maryland Department of Agriculture, is the only way that farmers can legally grow hemp in the state of Maryland. Farmers are able to apply for this program through the Maryland Department of Agriculture and will then be screened. Their growing facilities will be tested and inspected. New regulations are expected to surface in Maryland, as well as an expansion on hemp farming. However, these regulations and proposals will need further approval.
A hemp pilot program has been created in Massachusetts, run by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. This hemp program oversees all hemp production that is part of the pilot program. Farmers may apply for licenses as part of the research program. However, current state laws do not allow for the cultivation of hemp outside of the research program. Hemp may also not be grown on any land labeled as agricultural land. This means that hemp growth will only be allowed on non-agricultural land, which may make it very expensive for farmers to grow.
Some eligible farmers may be allowed to cultivate hemp in Michigan, as part of a research pilot program. This research pilot program is run by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. In order to become part of this program, farmers need to apply for and obtain a license. There are fees for the farmer to register their license, as well as additional costs for processing and handling hemp. Currently, farmers are not able to cultivate hemp outside of this research pilot program.
A pilot program is underway in the state of Minnesota surrounding hemp cultivation. Farmers who want to apply for the program can do so through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Those who are approved will receive a permit that is good for one calendar year. There is no established plan for permanent hemp farming in the state, as the USDA has not approved the hemp proposal. It is currently not legal for farmers to cultivate hemp without a permit through the pilot program.
When it comes to hemp cultivation, Mississippi has fallen behind other states. Mississippi has finally removed hemp from its controlled substances list, as of last year. However, there are no pilot programs, regulations, or other policies regarding hemp currently in place.
In Missouri, a farmer is able to cultivate hemp through the use of a pilot program permit. However, only two permits have been issued as of now and acreage allowed for cultivation is limited. Pushback has started within the state, among the public and lawmakers alike, to make the process for obtaining permits easier by removing limits and providing research facilities with permits.
In Montana, hemp is recognized as a commercial crop. In order to commercially grow hemp, farmers need to apply for and obtain a permit through the Montana Department of Agriculture. There may also be additional requirements, certifications, and licenses to be met or obtained. For example, a conditional grower license allows a farmer wishing to cultivate hemp to purchase the hemp seeds, as well as place them in the ground. A production hemp license allows the farmer to harvest and sell their crop.
Currently, the cultivation of hemp is still illegal in Nebraska. However, the Nebraska Hemp Act has grown in discussion among state legislators, which may help with the expansion of regulations surrounding hemp.
In the state of Nevada, there is a current hemp research program underway. The Industrial Hemp Program is run by the Nevada Department of Agriculture. This program is only open to select farmers within the state and these farmers must prove their eligibility. The Nevada Department of Agriculture provides these farmers with a permit and regulates their production. Farmers who cultivate hemp without one of the research program permits are considered to be operating unlawfully.
Industrial hemp, as well as its cultivation, remains illegal in the state of New Hampshire. However, there is enough support within the state that legalization may be in the state’s near future.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture recognizes hemp as a crop, both industrial and commercially. However, there are no clear guidelines in place for the cultivation of hemp, as the state is waiting for more information from the USDA.
Hemp production is legal in the state of New Mexico and is regulated by the Department of Agriculture. Those who want to grow hemp need to apply for and obtain licenses and certifications, as well as follow regulations. Not acting in accordance with any rules or regulations means that a farm is operating unlawfully. Native American communities have their own rules and licensing protocols when it comes to hemp cultivation.
There is currently a hemp research program in New York, focusing on the cultivation and harvesting processes surrounding hemp production. The state has begun and is expected to continue, expanding this program. Farmers who wish to apply for a research program permit have to do so through the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, which oversees the program. The Department encourages farmers to apply for permits and express their interest in the program.
A hemp research pilot program began in 2014 in North Carolina and continues to this day. This is due to the state waiting on clearer guidelines and regulations following the 2018 Farm Bill. Farmers who wish to apply for a permit through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture are encouraged to do so. License holders have to pay initial fees, as well as annual fees according to acreage. Farmers are subject to testing that is conducted at their own cost. Operating without proper licensure means that a farm is operating unlawfully.
The state of North Dakota is operating under a pilot research program for industrial hemp. The rules and regulations behind the pilot program date back to 2014, as well. Farmers can apply to be part of this program. Applicants may be given a permit if they are part of a research program. Those who operate without a permit do so unlawfully. North Dakota is waiting for more guidelines from the USDA.
In Ohio, cultivation and production of industrial hemp is legal. This legalization at the state law follows the federal law. This means that hemp and hemp products are no longer on the list of controlled substances in the state of Ohio. However, there is still not a licensing program in place by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Without licenses and proper permits, Ohio farmers are not able to cultivate hemp legally.
A pilot program is being conducted in the state of Oklahoma. However, legislation has been signed to establish rules and regulations for hemp cultivation at the commercial level in Oklahoma. The pilot program will remain until this legislation goes into effect. In order to cultivate hemp, farmers need to apply for and obtain a license, as well as follow all regulations in place.
In Oregon, hemp cultivation is legal as long as farmers have proper licenses and follow the regulations that are in place. The Oregon Department of Agriculture gives out licenses to hemp farmers that last until the end of each calendar year. Farmers who want to obtain a license need to apply through the Department.
Pennsylvania is currently following the regulations under the 2018 Farm Bill, legalizing industrial hemp cultivation and removing hemp from their controlled substances list. Those who wish to grow and process hemp need to apply for multiple permits and fill out separate applications. All rules and regulations must be followed by growers. Additionally, growers must have required documents in order to operate lawfully in Pennsylvania.
A pilot program has been developed in Rhode Island. In the state of Rhode Island, there is one licensed hemp farmer and only one other company has applied for a permit to process CBD. Those who wish to farm hemp on phone island need to apply for a license through the Rhode Island Department of Agriculture.
Restrictions have recently been lifted surrounding hemp cultivation in South Carolina due to the 2018 Farm Bill. South Carolina currently operates under a pilot program. Applications are required in order for farmers to obtain a permit to cultivate the crop. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture oversees applications and puts limits on acreages of hemp that can be planted.
South Dakota still recognizes hemp as a controlled substance. State legislatures have not made any distinction between marijuana and hemp, which means that the cultivation of the crop remains illegal.
In Tennessee, an industrial hemp pilot program is active. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is responsible for this program and for issuing licenses. Since the 2018 Farm Bill passed, this program has sought expansion. In order to legally grow industrial hemp in Tennessee, farmers need to apply and obtain the license that is part of the pilot program. However, hemp processors do not need to have a license in the state of Tennessee.
There is no current pilot program in the state of Texas. Industrial hemp and hemp-derived extracts remain illegal in Texas.
In Utah, hemp cultivation—as well as the possession of hemp extract CBD—is legal. Previously, Utah residents needed a registration card in order to have CBD oil. That is no longer the case. Farmers interested in hemp cultivation still need a license from the Utah Department of Agriculture and need to follow all necessary regulations.
The state of Vermont is still in the development phase when it comes to the establishment of rules and regulations surrounding hemp cultivation and hemp products. Currently, cultivation is illegal in the state. However, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets has recognized hemp as an agricultural crop.
The Virginia Industrial Hemp Law previously limited hemp cultivation to research facilities. However, that limit has been lifted. Hemp is now recognized in the state of Virginia as an agricultural crop. Potential farmers need to become registered growers in the state of Virginia through the Department of Agriculture in order to cultivate the crop.
Washington previously had a research pilot program in place, which allowed farmers to apply for a permit for the program. However, there were strict limitations on who would be eligible for these permits. With the 2018 Farm Bill, Washington now recognizes hemp as a commercial crop, making it legal in the state. Farmers still need to apply for permits through the Washington Department of Agriculture. However, requirements for the permits have lessened.
West Virginia passed the Industrial Hemp Development Act, which legalized hemp as a commercial and agricultural crop throughout the state. However, farmers need to apply for a license to commercially grow the crop. Regulations still apply to these farmers and they need to abide by all rules, as well as provide correct information about their acreage to the Department.
In Wisconsin, a 2014 pilot hemp project is still running. In order to be eligible for the program, farmers need to apply through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. Interest in the Wisconsin-based project has begun to pick up steam and more farmers have started submitting applications. Operating without proper licenses and permits would mean a farm is operating unlawfully.
In Wyoming, hemp cultivation is still illegal and there has been no lift of prohibition. State representatives have promising policies in the works to help elevate the hemp industry in Wyoming.
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