Industrial hemp with a THC content of less than 0.3% was removed from its classification as a Schedule I substance in the United States, per the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. The crop was removed from a federal list that classified it as harmful and addictive as heroin and ecstasy. It was removed from the scheduled substances lists entirely and is now categorized as an ordinary crop, though it does have some different regulations.
Before the bill was passed, hemp and CBD businesses operated in a quasi-legal status depending on the states’ individual laws. Hemp has been used in everything from topical products, food, pet care, and beauty.
Now that federal restrictions have been lifted, many are wondering how they can get in on growing hemp.
Before you start planting seeds in your backyard, there are some steps you need to take to ensure everything is done legally.
Here is what you need to do to get started:
- Make sure hemp is legal to grow in your state, and be sure you can comply with your states’ regulations for growing
Despite the 2018 Farm Bill legalizing industrial hemp cultivation on a federal level, each state is able to decide exactly what that means for their particular state. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Mississippi, South Dakota, Idaho, and the District of Columbia prohibit the cultivation of hemp in any form.
The states that do allow hemp cultivation to have different regulations concerning the ways it can be grown. Some states only permit it for research purposes, and other states allow industrial hemp to be grown for commercial purposes, as well. For example, according to the NCSL “Missouri created an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program, in accordance with federal law, to be implemented by the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) to study the growth, cultivation, processing, feeding, and marketing.” This is a wide range of allowances for hemp cultivation in Missouri. Nebraska on the other hand only “allows a postsecondary institution or the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to grow hemp for research purposes.” There are other states like Nebraska who have a limited scope when it comes to growing hemp.
- Ensure you have space, time and patience to give to hemp cultivation
According to Industrial Hemp Farms, hemp plants can be grown about four inches apart, making roughly 15 to 30-inch rows. Think about your purpose for wanting to grow hemp and determine if you have the space to grow what you need. If you’re growing hemp in hopes to turn a large profit, you’ll likely need a lot of space.
Industrial Hemp Farms says irrigation is important, especially in the first six weeks of the seed being planted. Hemp is easily able to be grown organically because it does not require a lot of supplementary nutrition and is virtually pest and disease-resistant.
The plant will grow for 90 to 100 days before being considered fully mature. The hemp plant can be harvested at approximately 100 to 120 days from the seeds being sown. This is usually around September or October.
- Submit an application to grow industrial hemp in your state
Each state has its own individual process to begin growing hemp legally. For example, according to Missouri’s laws, “Industrial hemp may not be grown in Missouri and individuals may not possess seeds or propagules without an applicable Producer Registration and/or Agricultural Hemp Propagule and Seed Permit.” The MDA website lists the following criteria for growing hemp in Missouri, “The applicant must be a Missouri resident or the entity must be domiciled in Missouri; and the registered location cannot be within a residence; and the applicant must pass an FBI fingerprint background check; and the applicant must not have been found guilty of or pled guilty to a felony offense under any state or federal law regarding the possession, distribution, manufacturing, cultivation, or use of a controlled substance in the ten (10) years immediately preceding the application date.” The Missouri Department of Agriculture says there will be fees established to participate in the industrial hemp program. These fees will help with the costs of establishing a new industry. There are also annual renewal fees to keep permits and registrations valid.
- Wait for your state to approve your application
As mentioned above, Missouri will not even begin accepting applications for industrial hemp cultivation until December 2nd, 2019. This is because many states’ industrial hemp programs will not begin until 2020. Until then, potential hemp farmers will be getting their ducks in a row to apply for the program.