Hemp cultivation laws vary by state, though all must follow federal guidelines to do so legally. State hemp cultivation laws support local farmers to improve agricultural demand and stimulate local economies. These hemp laws by state will help you be more successful when choosing which feminized hemp seeds to buy.
Federal Hemp Cultivation Laws and the US Farm Bill
The US Farm Bill is the primary tool used to create and direct food and agricultural policy in the United States. It has been used for decades to support and regulate the production of agricultural goods. Its most recent updates – one in 2014 and another in 2018 – are of particular interest to hemp farmers because they both address the cultivation of hemp for research and commercial purposes.
The 2014 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation specifically for research purposes, and the 2018 bill expanded it to include commercial farming, as well. The 2018 Farm Bill also removed hemp CBD from the list of controlled substances allowing for its sale and transport across state lines. The caveat, however, is that federally-legal and state-legal are not the same things.
Though hemp cultivation is federally legal, each state must determine whether or not it will allow hemp cultivation within its boundaries. States that opt in to cultivate hemp must submit a plan to the US Department of Agriculture outlining land tracking, testing methods, and non-compliant plant disposal.
The New USDA Hemp Farming Rules
In October 2019, the USDA issued a preliminary set of guidelines for hemp growers to follow. The guide, which among other things, mandates that the top two inches of a crop be tested 15 days before harvest. The rules further stipulate that a “hot crop,” or one that tests above .5 percent “Potential THC,” be destroyed by a specially-appointed member of the FDA.
The USDA’s new hemp farming rules raise some concern among the hemp farming community. For example, testing only the top two inches — an area of the hemp plant notorious for high cannabinoid concentrations — is not representative of the whole plant’s potency. Because it is unlikely that a farmer would harvest only the top colas from a hemp plant for premium processing, a more accurate representation of the plant’s cannabinoid potency is, well, the whole plant (or at least the top eight to 12 inches).
Hemp Laws By State
Furthermore, the strict testing of both real and “potential” THC levels has many concerned about “hot crops” and the need to destroy an easily salvageable material. Because some hemp seeds are prone to THC spikes stressful climates, many CBD farmers are choosing to grow hemp indoors until the USDA addresses these concerns.
The USDA is currently accepting comments regarding their new hemp cultivation rules. The comment period is open until December 30, 2019.
Please note that these rules only apply to states operating under the 2018 Farm Bill. States operating under the 2014 Farm bill — those with pre-approved plans that address these concerns — are not governed by the USDA’s new hemp farm rules.
Though many states have hemp legislation in place, the details and timelines vary by location. Below is an updated list of hemp cultivation laws by state and the circumstances by which they function.
Hemp Cultivation Laws By State
Though Alabama issued their hemp farm participation program following the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the state has chosen to wait until the USDA releases its final rules on the matter. As soon as the last federal hemp cultivation rules are in place, the state will open their hemp cultivation application process. Alabama hemp cultivation applications should be open to growers, processors, and universities through November 2019.
As a recreational cannabis state, the decision to allow industrial hemp cultivation was an easy one for Alaska. State legislatures unanimously approved Alaska’s commercial hemp program though recent budget concerns slowed its adoption. Specifically, the funding and infrastructure necessary to confirm that Alaska’s cannabis crops are, indeed, hemp and not “marijuana” was not in place. As it stands, most over-the-counter CBD products sold in Alaska are unregulated and, therefore, federally illegal. Once the state’s new hemp cultivation laws are in place, however, legal, regulated CBD hemp products will be more readily available.
Arizona currently allows the production, commercialization, and interstate transport of industrial hemp. Farmers of Arizona hemp crops are eligible for USDA-FDA crop insurance and future grant opportunities provided that they meet both state and federal regulations. For example, all hemp plants must come from certified hemp seed provided by certified hemp seed retailers. Seeds must be clearly labeled, and the germination rate must be guaranteed based on the seed’s Certificate of Analysis.
The Arkansas Industrial Hemp Act became effective in August 2017. Arkansas legislatures recognize the advantages of industrial hemp cultivation, research, and sale, as well as its economic benefit to the state. Regulations regarding Arkansas’ industrial hemp program went into effect on August 31, 2018, allowing certified farmers to cultivate hemp for seed, fiber, or flower. The state does not, however, offer financial assistance to hemp farmers who must assume the liability of their crop. Furthermore, budget issues allow state authorities to limit or deny hemp farming as necessary. The state is currently accepting hemp cultivation applications for the 2020 fiscal year. Applications must be received by May 1, 2020. All applications must be submitted online until further notice.
California allows commercial hemp production provided that it’s grown from approved hemp cultivars (seeds or clones). The list of supported cultivars (which is subject to alterations as needed) is located online in California’s Industrial Hemp Law documents. California farmers are also required to register with the state, including their full name, address, map of proposed crop location, and a summary of their proposed cultivation, storage, and distribution practices. The same document details California hemp farmer registration, as well. Note that some counties have a ban on hemp farming; check local ordinances to confirm legality in your area.
Colorado allows the cultivation of hemp for any purpose, including research, market development, and commerce. The state commissioner must approve farmers at least 30 minutes before planting the first seed. The registration fee for commercial hemp cultivation in Colorado is $500 plus either $5 per acre or $0.33 per 1000 square feet indoors. Hemp seeds must be CDA-approved and accepted by the Colorado Seed Growers Association (CSGA)
Pending approval by the US Department of Agriculture, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture will oversee hemp cultivation and research within the state. Growers and processors must pass criminal background checks for licensing approval. Submit applications through their online portal here.
Growers and processors must also track all hemp plant material. Additionally, they must only use certified hemp seeds or clones and pre-approved crop coordinates. Note that growers are responsible for all pre-harvest testing.
Deleware allows hemp cultivation for research purposes only; the state does not allow commercial hemp cultivation at this time. However, the state is currently developing a plan for industrial hemp cultivation, though USDA adoption may be some months off. Also, though some CBD research facilities currently operate within the state, they are limited to 10 acres per entity.
Currently, only two land-grant universities have the authority to cultivate industrial hemp: the University of Florida and Florida A&M University. These entities may only grow hemp for research and academic purposes.
However, Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) published its proposed State Hemp Program to address commercial hemp cultivation on October 10, 2019. The FDACS is currently reviewing all public comments on the matter and hopes to have a decision by October 21, 2019.
It is legal for licensed growers to produce and sell hemp and hemp products under the Georgia Hemp Farming Act. Farmers can submit their registration applications as soon as the USDA gives its approval. Licensed farmers should expect to pay an initial $25,000. They must also pay $10,000 annually to maintain their hemp handler’s permit, plus $50 per acre up to $5000. The USDA approved Georgia’s hemp farming rules in March 2020. The state is now accepting hemp cultivation applications.
It is legal to cultivate industrial hemp in Hawaii via the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. Though the state does not restrict hemp-derived CBD products, many other local and national legislatures do. Therefore, hemp cultivation and distribution compliance may require additional research into the production and distribution laws of all parties involved.
Hemp cultivation remains illegal in Idaho despite years of objections from local farmers and lawmakers. Transporting hemp through the state is legal with the proper transportation permits. Additionally, no one may load or unload hemp cargo within the state. This stipulation is an attempt to support local commerce laws without direct adoption.
The Illinois Industrial Hemp Act permits the cultivation of industrial hemp provided that farmers and handlers attain the proper permits to do so. The state also removed industrial hemp from the Noxious Weeds Law list (but not “marijuana”) and clarifies that industrial hemp does not include cannabis.
Per the Indiana State Chemist and Seed Commissioner, hemp cultivation is now legal in the state, including both industrial (seed/fiber) and resinous (CBD) hemp crops. Indiana views hemp as a legitimate industrial crop (as opposed to “marijuana”); marijuana remains illegal throughout all of Indiana.
Iowa is on track to legalize hemp cultivation by the 2020 growing season. Iowa’s Senate File 599 (a.k.a. the hemp bill) became law in May 2019, and recently gained approval by the USDA (though the official notice will not go live until April 8, 2020). The approved plan does not change the state’s anti stance on CBD processing and extraction, however, and only permits a small number of pharmacies to sell CBD products in the state.
Kansas participates in the Alternative Crop Research Act (ACT). The act allows people in the state to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes only. To grow hemp in Kansas, processors must hold at least one of four licenses: grower, distributor, processor, or educator. Applicants must submit all fees and agree to a criminal background check for license approval.
Kentucky was the first state to file their industrial hemp farming plan following the singing of the 2018 Farm Bill. As such, the state has granted more than 1,000 hemp cultivation licenses and approved more than 42,000 acres of farmland for hemp cultivation.
Only those with state licenses may grow hemp in Kentucky. Individuals and businesses must complete background checks and agree to periodic grow site inspections to attain hemp cultivation license in Kentucky
Louisiana will regulate hemp cultivation as early as the 2020 growing season. Under the authority of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), the state will soon begin licensing hemp farmers, processors, and distributors.
Maine allows the cultivation of both hemp and marijuana. However, marijuana and hemp crops cannot be combined. Hemp cultivation laws in Maine follow a strict set of guidelines, including sporadic crop testing, outdoor-only cultivation facilities, and special licensing and fees. The state is also conducting an Indoor Hemp Growing Trial. The trial will license grow facilities to cultivate hemp indoors.
Maryland allows hemp cultivation for research purposes, including commercial research. Farmers can sell crops for a profit at the end of each growing season, as well. Maryland does not limit crop size or regulate the processing and sale of hemp. It does, however, require growers, processors, and distributors to attain the proper hemp cultivation licensing.
Massachusetts Hemp Program, headed by the state’s Agricultural Department, oversees the state’s hemp laws. The Hemp Program allows license-holders to grow and process hemp that does not exceed the .3 percent THC threshold. Accredited labs must test hemp crops before harvest using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). This testing method determines total THC levels, including THCa, the raw precursor to THC.
Michigan allows the cultivation and production of industrial hemp provided that licensees adhere to all hemp protocol. Hemp cultivation and processing license-holders must pay a $250 annual fee; have no unpaid fines, taxes, or civil penalties, and agree to comply with all rules, regulations, and testing procedures.
Minnesota’s Hemp Research Pilot Program allows participants the opportunity to cultivate hemp for research and commercial purposes. Licensed participants must report seed varieties and cultivation, processing, and distribution plans to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). Enrollment in Minnesota’s Hemp Pilot program for the 2020 growing season is open as of November 15, 2019.
There is currently no legislation in place allowing hemp cultivation in Mississippi. However, the state has appointed a task force who is considering hemp cultivation in the state. The 13 task force members are currently evaluating the potential of hemp cultivation in Mississippi including both market potential and job creation.
Only two licensed entities are permitted to grow hemp in Missouri: BeLeaf Company and Noah’s Arc Foundation. These entities may cultivate hemp for extraction purposes only for use in the treatment of certain types of epilepsy. The state will not issue any new licenses until they increase the statutory maximum.
Montana’s legal hemp program allows licensed hemp growers and producers to cultivate and sell hemp in the state. The state issues two different licenses for hemp cultivation: “Conditional Grower” and “Production”. A conditional grower can purchase and plant hemp seeds while the production license allows them to grow, verify, transport, and sell the plants. The state will issue production licenses after the crop is planted and all additional fees/requirements are met.
Nebraska is currently developing a hemp farming plan to submit to the USDA for approval. The state has until December 31, 2019, to submit a plan and the USDA has up to 60 days to review it and either approve or send back for revisions. In the meantime, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture has the authority through the Hemp Farming Act to regulate hemp farming in the state. At this time, the state has received 176 applications and approved ten of them.
Hemp cultivation in Nevada is permitted for research purposes only. Those who wish to grow hemp in Nevada must submit a research goal to the state for approval. It is illegal to possess viable hemp seed in Nevada unless it is for approved research purposes. Imported hemp seed comes with an additional $1.00 per pound charge to cover broker fees and freight costs. The state projects an average $5.00 per pound of complaint hemp seed with an average planting rate of about 25 pounds per acre.
New Jersey’s hemp cultivation plan recently received USDA approval. After reviewing public comments regarding hemp cultivation in New Jersey, the state developed a clear set of hemp farming rules and regulations including licensing types, fees, and restrictions. Both processors and growers must attain hemp licensing to cultivate or handle the crop in New Jersey and pay all applicable fees on time. There are no limits regarding the number of licenses the state can issue. There are, however, restrictions on things like grow site modifications, public access to hemp crops, and unreliable hemp seeds and strains.
Farmers must register both themselves and their farmland for hemp cultivation in New Mexico. Outdoor hemp crop registrants must also pay an $800 annual fee in addition to all other applicable fees while indoor “continuous production” licensees must pay $900 annually. The state does not require background checks or certified help seeds for compliant hemp production. All CBD retailers in New Mexico must attain their product within the state; no outside CBD products are allowed in New Mexico.
New York is one of the most progressive states when it comes to hemp cultivation laws. For example, New York’s hemp research program (active since 2015) no longer limits the number of entities allowed to operate in the state. In fact, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, established hemp as an important agricultural commodity and signed into affect millions of dollars in grant money to encourage its production.
Hemp production is especially favorable in North Carolina thanks to its temperate climate and lax cultivation laws. Currently, the state operates under the 2014 Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp cultivation for research purposes. Individuals who wish to participate in North Carolina’s hemp research program must obtain the proper permits from the Industrial Hemp Commission and have their hemp seeds imported from outside of the nation. Private hemp cultivation is not allowed in the state.
North Dakota hemp licensees operate under the state’s Hemp Research Program. Because of recent changes to the USDA’s hemp cultivation guidelines, officials are currently reevaluating the North Dakota State Hemp Program. Changes to the new plan will not go into effect during the 2020 growing season. To qualify for a hemp cultivation license in North Dakota, farmers must submit a background check, a Hemp Pilot Project Proposal, and a non-refundable payment of $41.25.
It is legal to cultivate and process hemp in Ohio. However, farmers must gain a license from the state, and none are available at this time. Ohio representatives hope to begin distributing licenses to farmers in time for the 2020 growing season. The state already permits the sale of properly inspected CBD products.
Oklahoma legalized the cultivation of hemp in 2018 for research purposes only and only to those in connection with select universities in the state. If a farmer has a relationship with a university containing a plant science curriculum program, he or she may apply with the Department of Agriculture to grow hemp in Oklahoma.
Oregon legalized hemp cultivation in 2015, but it wasn’t until the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill that applications really started pouring in. Anyone who grows, handles, or processes hemp must register with the state of Oregon and agree to proper inspections and sample testing. All licenses expire on December 31 at midnight. Farmers must renew all licenses for the following year.
Pennsylvania allows the commercial cultivation and production of hemp provided that all those involved attain the proper permits. Additionally, all hemp processors, property owners, and key participants (this with a financial stake in the operation) must pass an FBI background check. Hemp farmers in Pennsylvania must grow a minimum of 300 plants on a one-quarter acre of land for outdoor hemp grow sites and a minimum of 200 plants covering 2,000 square feet in an indoor grow. Growing facilities bust be at least 1,000 feet from any Pre-K – 12 school and all public spaces.
It is legal to grow hemp in Rhode Island if all involved procure the proper licensing and submit all applicable feed. Both growers and handlers must apply and notify the proper authorities as information changes. Applications must include information regarding all relevant parties as well as a detailed description of the land on which the prospective crop will grow. A $250 non-refundable application is also required, as is a $2,500 license fee for those approved to grow hemp in Rhode Island.
South Carolina legalized hemp cultivation for licensed growers in the state. Though previously capped at 40 licenses through 2019, the state recently opened its policy to allow all eligible parties to participate in South Carolina hemp cultivation. Registrants must submit their full name(s), hemp crop coordinates, and a letter of intent signed by the purchaser to quality for hemp cultivation in South Carolina.
Gov. Kristi Noem recently approved South Dakota’s hemp farming bill. House Bill 1008 went into effect in late March and includes $3.5 million in funding to help establish the program. This amount could change come June, however, when representatives use an emergency session to discuss the budget amid Coronavirus concerns. Hemp cultivation remains prohibited in South Dakota until the USDA approves the proposed bill which will happen in late June at the earliest.
Tennessee’s Hemp Pilot Program has been active since 2015. Those who grow hemp in Tennessee must agree to random sampling by the state’s Department of Agriculture of non-fiber crops more than two acres in size. Alternatively, buyers can hire private THC testing labs to test hemp crops instead of having the TDA do it for them. Updated rules regarding hemp cultivation in Tennessee also require transportation permits for both rooted, live plants and post-harvest plant material.
Texas submitted their industrial hemp program rules in December 2019 and gained approval on January 27, 2020. The rules, which go into effect on March 11, 2020, allow licensed hemp farmers, processors, and handlers to conduct business in the state. Grow lots also require a permit and hemp transport requires a transportation certificate. The TDA must approve all hemp seeds and hemp seed handlers. Applications for hemp growing and processing is currently open for the 2020 grow season.
Farmers who wish to cultivate hemp in Utah must first submit a criminal background check and a legal description of the growing area, including an aerial photograph. They must also clearly label and protect the hemp growing area and submit regular planting, harvest, and production reports. The Utah hemp licensing fee is $560, and the processor fee is $2060. Product registration requires an additional $260 licensing fee.
It is legal to grow hemp in Vermont; those who wish to do so must register under the state’s Hemp Pilot Program. All locations at which hemp is handled must also be registered and fully compliant with Vermont’s hemp cultivation rules. Those with felony convictions cannot register to grow hemp in Vermont, nor may anyone who falsifies any hemp registration documents. Growers must maintain accurate records for a minimum of three years and submit annual reports to the proper authorities.
Hemp cultivation has been level in Virginia since the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill for select universities in the area. In 2018, the state expanded its hemp cultivation laws to include private institutions of higher learning, as well. Those who wish to grow hemp in Virginia must attain the proper permits, including permission from the landowner. Hemp processors and hemp dealers must also attain registration. Each registration must also accompany a $50 non-refundable registration fee payable to the Treasurer of Virginia. Virginia’s Industrial Hemp Registration Guidelines can help.
Washington State allows hemp cultivation according to their own 2019 Hemp Bill (signed into law in April 2019). However, with the passing of the new USDA farm rules, Washington’s current Hemp Bill may become obsolete. According to USDA Rules, all state regulations must closely match the USDA’s, including testing procedures that require farmers to test only two inches of the top flower. Washington representatives submitted a public comment regarding the USDA rules urging them to test more of the plant, including seeds and stems, as per the original documentation outlined in the Marijuana Marketing Act of 1946. Until the USDA adopts the final rules, Washington will operate according to its own preestablished hemp cultivation standards.
Washington DC does not regulate the cultivation and production of hemp. That said, cannabis products are legal in the District of Columbia, and dispensaries and CBD stores abound. Though there is limited space for large-scale hemp cultivation in Washington DC, there may be a need for a regulatory hemp farming framework in the near future. However, as it stands, hemp cultivation is legal on a federal level but unregulated in the district.
Those who wish to grow hemp in West Virginia must register with the state commissioner proving they meet all requirements. To receive a hemp cultivation license in West Virginia, registrants must pass a criminal background check. They must also submit a thorough description of the land on which the hemp will grow and provide written consent allowing law enforcement and other officials access to the property at any time. Farmers must test crops for THC and remain up-to-date on all applicable fees and deadlines.
Wisconsin operates under the 2014 Hemp Pilot Program. As such, Wisconsin allows hemp cultivation for licensed growers and processors in the state. License-holders must re-register annually and pay all applicable feed. Licensees must also pass a criminal background check. Additionally, all license-holders must submit a report within 30 days of planting a hemp crop in Wisconsin, and test crops according to DATCP standards. The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection also requires a $250 testing fee for each variety of hemp grown.
There is currently no regulatory framework to govern the cultivation of hemp in Wyoming. Though the state submitted a plan in April 2019, the USDA’s new hemp farming rules require that Wyoming’s plan be amended to more closely match the strict USDA guidelines. Wyoming officials expect the USDA to approve the amended rules in time for the 2020 growing season.