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State Industrial Hemp Statutes

State Industrial Hemp Statutes

3/26/2015

hemp clothPLEASE NOTE: NCSL cannot provide advice or assistance to private citizens or businesses regarding industrial hemp laws or other related matters.  Please consult your state department of agriculture or a private attorney.

In recent years, legislatures in several states have moved to promote the development of industrial hemp production. Industrial hemp can be used to make food, fuel, fabric, plastics, construction materials, textiles and paper, to name a few uses.

 Advocates point to industrial hemp production as a way to boost the agriculture sector and help struggling rural economies.  But, because hemp contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), the same hallucinogen found in marijuana, the federal government classifies it as an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Federal Action

A provision in the 2014 federal Farm Bill opened the door for universities and state departments of agriculture to begin cultivating industrial hemp for limited purposes. Specifically, the law allows universities and state departments of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp if:

“ (1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research; and

 (2) the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the State in which such institution of higher education or State department of agriculture is located and such research occurs.”The law also requires that the grow sites be certified by—and registered with—their state.

The law also requires that the sites used by universities and agriculture department be certified by—and registered with—their state.

State action

Twenty-two states have enacted state laws relating to industrial hemp. Generally, states have taken three approaches:

  1. Establish commercial industrial hemp programs.
  2. Establish industrial hemp research programs.
  3. Enact studies of industrial hemp or the industrial hemp industry.

 

Thirteen states have statutes establishing commercial industrial hemp programs:

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Indiana
  4. Kentucky
  5. Maine
  6. Montana
  7. North Dakota
  8. Oregon
  9. South Carolina
  10. Tennessee
  11. Vermont
  12. Virginia
  13. West Virginia

 

Seven states have passed laws establishing industrial hemp programs that are limited to agricultural or academic research purposes. 

  1. Delaware
  2. Hawaii
  3. Illinois
  4. Michigan
  5. Nebraska
  6. New York
  7. Utah
 

Current state policies include:

Elements of state industrial hemp laws can include:

  • Defines industrial hemp. Most state laws require hemp to have THC concentrations of not more than 0.3 percent by weight, but at least one state (West Virginia) requires the crop have less than 1 percent THC concentrations.
  • Provide that industrial hemp is an agricultural crop in the state.
  • Establish licensing or registration programs for growers. Such programs often require registrants to provide information on the type of industrial hemp that will be grown, the grow area, and how the harvested crop will be used. Programs often also require growers to submit to criminal background checks.
  • Provide for inspections and establish testing standards for seeds and crops.
  • Authorize fees to support the program. Some states have authorized specific industrial hemp funds. Some states also specifically authorize the state to collect funding from foundations and private sources to support the industrial hemp program.
  • Establishing an affirmative defense for registered industrial hemp growers from prosecution under state controlled substances laws.
  • Setting penalties for violations of the industrial hemp law.
  • Creation of an advisory board to advise regulators on the development of regulations, enforcement, and budgetary matters.
  • Defining industrial hemp based on the percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol it contains.
  • Authorizing the growing and possessing of industrial hemp.
  • Requiring state licensing of industrial hemp growers.
  • Promoting research and development of markets for industrial hemp.
  • Excluding industrial hemp from the definition of controlled substances under state law.
  • Establishing a defense to criminal prosecution under drug possession or cultivation

Note that some states laws establishing commercial industrial hemp programs require a change in federal law or waivers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency before those programs can be implemented by the state. 

Two other states—Connecticut and New Hampshire—have passed laws that establish studies of potential industrial hemp production in the state.

State Statutes

California

CA FOOD & AG §81000-81010

  • Requires industrial hemp growers to be registered with the state.
  • Prohibits the possession of resin, flowering tops or leaves removed from the hemp plant.
  • Establishes registration and renewal fees for commercial growers of industrial hemp.
  • Organizes a five year review of industrial hemp's economic impact.

While legislation adding this section was enacted in 2013, the law specifies that its provisions do not become operative unless authorized by federal law.

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 35-61-101 to 35-61-109-

  • Permits growing and possessing industrial hemp by registered persons for commercial or research and development purposes.
  • Establishes an industrial hemp committee to work with the Department of Agriculture to to establish an industrial hemp registration program and a seed certification program.
  • Establishes an industrial hemp grant research program for state institutions of higher education to conduct research to develop or recreate strains of industrial hemp best suited for industrial applications.

Connecticut

Public Act No.14-191
(Enacted June 12, 2014; goes into effect on October 1, 2014)

  • Legalizes a feasibility study on industrial hemp.
  • Commissioners of Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Economic and Community Development shall study the feasibility of legalizing the production, possession, and sale of industrial hemp, respectively.
  • By Jan. 1, 2015, a report will be made to the legislature regarding “[…]said commissioners' recommendations on (1) establishing a statutory definition of "industrial hemp", based on the percentage of proposed tetrahydrocannabinol in such industrial hemp, as distinguished from marijuana, (2) amending the general statutes to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "controlled substance" in section 21a-240 of the general statutes, and (3) establishing a licensing system for industrial hemp growers and sellers.”


Delaware

Del. Code Ann. tit. 3, ch. 28, §2800-2803

  • Authorizes the state and higher education institutions to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for agricultural or academic research.

Hawaii

S.B. 2175

  • “Authorizes the dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii at Manoa to establish an industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research program;
  • requires a report on the rate of contamination uptake and efficient uptake from soil and water, the rate of carbon fixation in the Calvin cycle and the viability of industrial hemp as a biofuel feedstock;
  • clarifies that the term industrial hemp means the plant Cannabis Sativa L;
  • provides criminal and civil immunity.”

Illinois

720 ILCS 550/15.2

  • Authorize the state and higher education institutions to grow or cultivate industrial hemp if: (1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research; (2) the pilot program studies the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp; and (3) any site used for the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is certified by, and registered with, the Department of Agriculture.

  • Before conducting industrial hemp research, the Department of Agriculture and local law enforcement must be informed in writing.

  • Institutions of higher education must provide quarterly and annual reports to the Department of agriculture and are subject to inspection.  The annual report is due on or before October 1.
  • Allows the Department of Agriculture to adopt rules to comply with federal rules or to adopt emergency rules deemed necessary to public interest safety and welfare.
  • Defines industrial hemp.

Indiana

IC 15-15-13-1 to 15-15-13-16

  • Authorizes the production of, possession of, scientific study of, and commerce in industrial hemp in Indiana by license holders.
  • “Industrial hemp is an agricultural product that is subject to regulation by the state seed commissioner.”
  • The state seed commissioner adopts rules and oversees licensing, production, and management of industrial hemp and agricultural hemp seed.
  • Sets the standards for application for hemp license and registration.

Kentucky

KRS § 260.850-.869

  • Establishes an industrial hemp commission to promote the research and development of industrial hemp, and commercial markets for Kentucky industrial hemp and hemp products.
  • Establishes a five year industrial hemp research program, to be directly managed by the University of Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station to conduct research on industrial hemp for a variety purposes.
  • Establishes an industrial hemp licensing program.
  • Includes language that "Kentucky shall adopt the federal rules and regulations that are currently enacted regarding industrial hemp and any subsequent changes thereto."

Note: On Feb. 19, 2014, Kentucky announced five pilot hemp projects that would be used across the state, including one project that would research whether industrial hemp could be used to remediate tainted soil.

Maine

7 M.R.S.A. § 2231

  • Permits a person to “plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell and buy industrial hemp” if that person holds a license.
  • Prohibits the state from issuing a license unless “The United States Congress excludes industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana" for the purpose of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 United States Code, Section 802(16); or…the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration takes affirmative steps towards issuing a permit under 21 United States Code, Chapter 13, Subchapter 1, Part C to a person holding a license issued by a state to grow industrial hemp.”

Michigan

M.C.L.A. 286.841 to 286.844

  • Authorizes the state department of agriculture and rural development and colleges and universities in the state to grow or cultivate, or both, industrial hemp for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research project.
  • Establishes an industrial hemp research fund to support research into growing or cultivating, or both, industrial hemp and grants to colleges or universities in this state to conduct research into growing or cultivating, or both, industrial hemp.

Montana

Mont. Code Anno., § 80-18-101 to 80-18-111

  • States that industrial hemp that does not contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol is an agricultural product.
  • "…an individual in this state may plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell, or buy industrial hemp if the industrial hemp does not contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol."
  • Requires industrial hemp growers be licensed by the state.
  • Creates an affirmative defense to prosecution under criminal code for marijuana possession or cultivation.

Nebraska

Neb.Rev.St. § 2-5701

  • Permits a postsecondary institution or the Department of Agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research. Requires certification and registration of industrial hemp sites.

New Hampshire

2014 HB 153

  • This bill establishes a committee to study the growth and sale of industrial hemp in New Hampshire.
  • The study must report their findings by Nov. 1, 2014.

New York

McKinney's Agriculture and Markets Law § 505 to

  • Authorizes up to ten sites for the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp as part of an agricultural pilot program conducted by the department and/or an institution of higher education to study the growth and cultivation of such hemp provided that the sites used for growing or cultivating industrial hemp are certified by, and registered with, the department.
  • Prohibits the sale, distribution or export of industrial hemp grown or cultivated pursuant to this article.

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code, § 4-41-01 to 4-41-03

  • States that industrial hemp that does not contain more than 0.3 percent is considered an oilseed.
  • "…any person in this state may plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell, and buy industrial hemp (cannabis sativa l.) having no more than .03 percent tetrahydrocannabinol."
  • Requires industrial hemp growers be licensed by the state.
  • "North Dakota State University and any other person licensed under this chapter may import and resell industrial hemp seed that has been certified as having no more than .03 percent tetrahydrocannabinol."

N.D. Cent. Code, § 4-05.1-05

  • Permits the North Dakota state university main research center to conduct baseline research, including production and processing in conjunction with the research and extension centers of the state, regarding industrial hemp and other alternative industrial use crops.
  • Allows for the center to collect feral hemp seed stock and develop appropriate adapted strains of industrial hemp which contain less than three-tenths of one percent THC.
  • Requires the state agriculture commissioner to monitor the collection of feral hemp seed stock and industrial hemp strain development and certify appropriate stocks for licensed commercial cultivation.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 571.300 to .315

  • Requires industrial hemp growers be licensed by the state.
  • Authorizes “industrial hemp production and possession, and commerce in industrial hemp commodities and products.”

South Carolina

S. 839

  • “Adds chapter 55 concerning industrial hemp; provides that it is lawful to grow industrial hemp in this state;
  • clarifies that industrial hemp is excluded from the definition of marijuana;
  •  prohibits growing industrial hemp and marijuana on the same property or otherwise growing marijuana in close proximity to industrial hemp to disguise the marijuana growth.”


Tennessee

TN AG Code 916

  • “Authorizes growing of industrial hemp subject to regulation by the Department of Agriculture;
  • provides for license fees;
  • provides that industrial hemp is not marijuana but can be categorized as a controlled substance under specified circumstances;
  • provides that the department has the right to inspect the hemp crop for compliance.”

Utah

UT H 105

  • Permits the Department of Agriculture and a certified higher education institution to grow industrial hemp for education.
  • Exempts an individual with intractable epilepsy who uses or possesses hemp extract or an individual who administers hemp extract to a minor with intractable epilepsy.
  • Provides for a hemp extract registration card; requires maintenance of neurologist medical records and a database of neurologist evaluations.

Vermont

6 V.S.A. § 561 to 566

  • "Industrial hemp means varieties of the plant cannabis sativa having no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, whether growing or not, that are cultivated or possessed by a licensed grower in compliance with this chapter."
  • "Industrial hemp is an agricultural product which may be grown, produced, possessed, and commercially traded in Vermont …"
  • Requires industrial hemp growers to be licensed by the state.

West Virginia

W. Va. Code § 19-12E-1 to 19-12E-9

  • "Industrial hemp that has not more than 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol is considered an agricultural crop in this state if grown for…purposes authorized…"
  • Requires industrial hemp growers be licensed by the state.
  • Creates a complete defense to prosecution under criminal code for marijuana possession or cultivation.
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