Louisiana Gov. Signs Hemp Bill Into Law
Texas becomes the 45th hemp state!
Ricketts signs Nebraska hemp farming act into law
Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill Thursday that will clear the way for farmers to plant hemp as an alternative crop.
The Nebraska Hemp Farming Act (LB657) would recognize the plant as a viable agricultural crop and align state law with federal law — industrial hemp was legalized in the 2018 farm bill — regarding its cultivation, handling, marketing and processing. It would open up new commercial markets for farmers and businesses through sale of its products.
In debate on the bill, Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne, who introduced it, said hemp production was coming, one way or another, and rather than being out of the business for two to three years, it was important that Nebraska get in now.
The bill would set up licensing and fee requirements for farmers who wish to grow hemp, outline reporting and enforcement requirements by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and create a hemp checkoff program.
It would require registering the crop with a GPS location, and plants grown would be required to be submitted for testing to determine whether they contain less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive drug in marijuana.
The bill would also have the state Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Nebraska State Patrol, adopt rules regulating the carrying or transporting of hemp in the state to ensure that marijuana or any other controlled substance is not disguised as hemp and carried or transported into or through the state.
Hemp is a variety of cannabis, and throughout debates on the bill, Sen. John Lowe of Kearney has argued that the allowance of industrial hemp would create a slippery slope.
“The hemp bill’s a Trojan horse bill for marijuana,” he said. “If you don’t want your children or grandchildren getting easy access to drugs, because that’s what this is, don’t vote for this bill.”
The bill passed last week on a 43-4 vote, more than enough to enact the emergency clause (33 votes required). Those voting no were Sens. Joni Albrecht, Robert Clements, Steve Erdman and Lowe. Present and not voting was Sen. Mike Groene.
With hemp farming about to become legal, Arizona marijuana farms fear cross-pollination
Arizona medical marijuana farms have a plea for anyone looking to grow hemp when that becomes legal later this year: Keep your pollen off our plants.
State and federal lawmakers lifted restrictions on growing hemp last year, and some marijuana farmers fear a surge in hemp cultivation could send pollen blowing across the state and make their carefully-tended crops worthless.
A marijuana farm already convinced Snowflake town leaders to pass a rule requiring a buffer between the crops, and at least two others are looking for similar treatment from municipalities in other parts of Arizona.
The two plants are related, but quite different.
Hemp has very little, 0.3% or less, of the psychoactive drug that makes marijuana popular and also illegal at the federal level. It’s grown for industrial use and for legal “CBD” oil that people use for various ailments.
Marijuana grown for medicinal use in Arizona and other states is intentionally limited to female plants. If the female plants are exposed to pollen from male hemp or marijuana plants, they grow seeds and the flowers are less potent.
Because some hemp is grown with male plants, and because a hemp field would be much larger than a marijuana crop, marijuana growers are wary.
“In short, the potential for cross pollination of hemp plants and marijuana plants is inescapable if hemp is permitted to be grown in proximity to marijuana,” lawyer Timothy La Sota wrote to Pima County officials in January.
“And cross pollination effectively renders marijuana plants useless.”
Farmers want a 10-mile buffer
La Sota represents a marijuana farm in Santa Cruz County, near the Pima County line. The farm, which has 150 employees, is affiliated with the Nature’s Medicines dispensaries in Phoenix and Fountain Hills.
The owners are concerned new hemp crops in Pima County could affect their harvest.
La Sota was hoping to convince Pima County officials to enact a zoning ordinance to create a 10-mile buffer around marijuana farms to prevent contamination.
The distance of 10 miles is thought to be sufficient to prevent windblown pollen from reaching the crop.
The county decided such a change was unnecessary.
“It wasn’t that we are opposed to the marijuana farm finding some relief and protection from industrial hemp,” said Chris Poirier, deputy director of Pima County Development Services. “My concern is zoning was not the appropriate tool.”
Poirier said the county had legal concerns.
“They wanted a 10-mile buffer,” he said. “That would then preclude ‘x’ amount of miles and hundreds if not thousands of acres for potential crops from being grown, imposing then this prohibition on other people’s property rights.”
He said the county also was concerned that most marijuana farms prefer “some level of anonymity and discretion.”
“But in order to protect these marijuana growers, we would have to map a 10-mile circle or whatever agreed up on distance, and anyone could easily pinpoint the marijuana grows,” he said.
La Sota said the state Department of Agriculture has similarly declined to wade in with any rules to protect marijuana crops.
“It is sort of a curious situation right now with the local governments looking to state government, but state government saying it’s a local issue,” La Sota said.
If government agencies don’t step in, and cross pollination ruins someone’s multimillion-dollar crop, it’s likely the matter would result in a civil lawsuit.
Possible model in Snowflake
La Sota proposed Pima County enact an ordinance similar to one passed last August in the town of Snowflake. That ordinance was created to protect a large marijuana farm run by Copperstate Farms.
Copperstate employs close to 200 people, growing marijuana in a large greenhouse that formerly grew tomatoes. Ventilation to the outdoors could allow pollen inside if hemp crops were nearby.
Copperstate lawyer Ryan Hurley said the farm requested the ordinance after lawmakers permitted industrial hemp farms.
“We are a big economic driver in the town,” Hurley said. “I think they wanted to make sure the jobs there are protected. This was something they were amenable to.”
Many other marijuana farms in Arizona are indoor facilities, with less concern for windblown pollen. But not all of them.
Harvest Health and Recreation of Tempe runs a large facility near Camp Verde that similarly could be affected.
“It is on our radar, it is something that we talk about,” Harvest CEO Steve White said.
White said his company will work with the local officials to protect his crops and also consult with the state Department of Agriculture as it develops rules for hemp farms.
“We don’t want those local communities to lose jobs,” he said. “If you make a significant investment in a community, you want to make sure that investment is going to be protected.”
Gov. Kemp signs Georgia hemp bill into law
On May 10, 2019 Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill legalizing hemp production in Georgia. The bill signing took place at the Corbett Country Corner in Lake Park Georgia where bill sponsor John Corbett is from.
Georgia becomes the 42nd state to legalize hemp farming.
“Certainly signing the industrial hemp act is going to give out famers— help diversify our ag economy. I certainly appreciate Representative John Corbett’s leadership on that. So, it’s an exciting day down here,” said Kemp.
“Move over sweet potato, here comes hemp,” said Dee-Dee Hider, a hemp production advocate. Hider works in Hemp Production across the country, and was one of many people that came out to see the governor sign the Georgia Hemp Farming Act.
Allowing hemp farming in Georgia is a positive step forward but the state will face challenges due to excessive licensing fees mandated in the bill. Processors who want to work with hemp must pay a $25,000 annual license fee and growers will pay $50 per acre with a maximum of $5,000, the highest fee per 100 acres of any state. We are hopeful that the legislature can amend this soon to level the playing field for Georgia hemp farmers and businesses.
Gov. Reynolds signs Iowa hemp bill into law
The bill allows licensed Iowa farmers to grow the crop on up to 40 acres. First, however, the Iowa Department of Agriculture must develop a plan and submit it to the USDA for approval.
Since the 2018 Farm Bill loosened federal restrictions on hemp production, most states have either legalized hemp production or are licensing farmers to grow it it under a 2014 law that allows limited commercial production and research plots.
Vote Hemp has sponsored legislation and provided support for efforts to legalize the crop there. Special thanks goes out to Chris Disbro of the Iowa Hemp Association and Meghan Malloy of Heartland Strategies for their hard work to see this legislation enacted.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture will likely begin accepting applications in time for the 2020 growing season.
Florida Senate passes hemp bill sending it to Gov. Desantis
On Friday May 3rd, the Florida Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill to establish a regulatory framework for hemp, sending the measure Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.
Florida Senators unanimously passed HB 333 after the House passed the same measure Wednesday. The bill is similar to FL SB 1020, which the Senate also unanimously approved last week. The House made one change to the Senate bill to open any potential pilot research programs to universities and colleges with agricultural programs. To view details on HB 333, click here.
The Senate bill was sponsored by state Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) who approved the House change. The measure directs the state Department of Agriculture to begin drafting rules for industry licensing, quality-control standards, and security procedures. The measure also creates an advisory council, primarily to educate communities on the plant and how it is different from marijuana.
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried who has been a strong supporter of hemp farming was on hand to observe the vote.
We congratulate the many activists, business owners and farmers who have worked to help pass this important legislation. We want to say special thanks to Bob Clayton who has worked tirelessly to bring hemp back in Florida for a number of years.
California hemp regulations finalized, applications finally ready!
California Hemp Regulations Finalized, Applications Ready!
The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved Section 4900 in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to industrial hemp cultivation registration fees on April 25, 2019. OAL has also approved the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) request for the regulation to take effect immediately.
CDFA posted the grower application form on Tuesday April 30th and you can begin submitting applications to your county agriculture commissioner immediately.
A number of California counties have passed moratoriums on hemp cultivation prior to the finalization of hemp regulations by CDFA. Some counties have chosen to block hemp farming due concerns regarding cross pollination with marijuana grows. Other counties have passed moratoriums over concerns regarding unlicensed research institute projects. Counties which have current moratoriums include: Calaveras, Inyo (indoor only), Lassen, Mariposa, Mendocino, Nevada, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Shasta, Siskyou, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Toulumne, Yolo and Yuba.
We recommend you contact your county commissioner to find out more. To locate and contact your county ag. commissioner, visit the CDFA county commissioners page.
California Hemp Council
The California Hemp Council (CHC) was formed to represent the interests of the hemp industry in California with a unified voice. Vote Hemp is a founding member and is working with the CHC to advocate for full implementation of laws and regulations that will open California up to hemp cultivation and the use and sale of hemp products. The CHC also met with Governor Newsom’s staff to educate them on key issues and advocate for reasonable policies and regulations. This year, the CHC is pursuing multiple legislative measures, in addition to our push for expedited regulations, to ensure that California has a clear and legal path for hemp cultivation and product use within the Golden State.
Below is a brief summary of those efforts:
AB 228 (Aguiar-Curry – D, Winters CA): Would state that a food, beverage, or cosmetic is not adulterated by the inclusion of industrial hemp or cannabinoids, extracts, or derivatives from industrial hemp, and would prohibit restrictions on the sale of food, beverages, or cosmetics that include industrial hemp or cannabinoids, extracts, or derivatives from industrial hemp based solely on the inclusion of industrial hemp or cannabinoids, extracts, or derivatives from industrial hemp. This measure will provide clarity regarding the sale of hemp products with a specific focus on correcting the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) misunderstanding of hemp derived products and their legality. The bill will also provide regulatory authority by CDPH over hemp food, dietary supplements and cosmetic products.
Status: Passed unanimously in first two policy committees. Pending consideration in Assembly Appropriations Committee.
SB 153 (Wilk – R, Lancaster CA): Amends California law to reflect the needed changes to conform with the 2018 federal farm bill. Full implementation of a state plan will finally allow California farmers to fully engage in the hemp industry.
Status: Passed unanimously out of Senate Agriculture Committee.
CDFA Hemp Regulations
CDFA has completed promulgation of regulations to establish a registration program for hemp farmers. These regulations are imperative to allow widespread cultivation of hemp in California. The CHC and Vote Hemp have worked closely with CDFA and the Hemp Advisory Board members to improve the regulations and will continue as they move to complete hemp sampling and THC testing regulations.
Maryland passes HB 1123 to legalize commercial hemp farming
On April 30, 2019, Governor Hogan signed HB 1123 into law. The bill, which was introduced by Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo and Delegate Andrew Cassilly, creates the Hemp Farming Program which authorizes the state to regulate commercial hemp farming according to the 2018 Farm Bill. Starting in 2020, Maryland farmers will no longer need to partner with universities to grow the crop.
Thanks to Delegates Fraser-Hidalgo and Cassilly!
We would like to express special thanks to Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo and Delegate Andrew Cassilly who lead the effort to pass hemp farming legislation. Delegate Fraser-Hidalgo deserves special thanks for leading this effort over the past 5 years and opening up a new opportunity for Maryland farmers and businesses.
2019 Hemp Applications
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has begun accepting applications to grow hemp for research in 2019. Applicants must partner with a university for this growing season as the regulations were created under the 2014 Farm Bill.
USDA Update on Importation of Hemp Seeds
Today the USDA announced new rules on the importation of hemp seeds. We want to thank Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Tester (D-MT) for their efforts to find a quick solution to this problem as many in the hemp industry finalize their plans to plant for the 2019 season. They sent a letter to the Customs and Border Patrol agency urging them to update their guidance to allow for legal hemp seed imports.
Below is a notice sent out by USDA today with an update on how the new process will work.
The passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill, Section 10113) removed hemp and hemp seeds from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) schedule of Controlled Substances. This action removed hemp and hemp seeds from DEA authority for products containing THC levels not greater than 0.3 percent. Therefore, DEA no longer has authority to require hemp seed permits for import purposes.
U.S. producers and hemp seed exporters have requested assistance from USDA to provide an avenue for hemp seed exports to the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the importation of all seeds for planting to ensure safe agricultural trade. Under this authority, USDA is providing an alternative way for the safe importation of hemp seeds into the United States.
Importation of Hemp Seed from Canada
Hemp seeds can be imported into the United States from Canada if accompanied by either: 1) a phytosanitary certification from Canada’s national plant protection organization to verify the origin of the seed and confirm that no plant pests are detected; or 2) a Federal Seed Analysis Certificate (SAC, PPQ Form 925) for hemp seeds grown in Canada.
Importation of Hemp Seed from Countries other than Canada
Hemp seeds may be imported into the United States from countries other than Canada if accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country’s national plant protection organization to verify the origin of the seed and confirm that no plant pests are detected.
Hemp seed shipments may be inspected upon arrival at the first port of entry by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to ensure USDA regulations are met, including certification and freedom from plant pests.
Questions or requests for information regarding hemp can be sent to email@example.com.
More information about industrial hemp production is available at www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/farmbill-hemp.