Caution Entering Industrial Hemp Industry

Industrial Hemp PSA

Commercial hemp cultivation has arrived in California! As of last week, you can now register as a grower or a seed breeder for industrial commercial hemp. The annual fee is $900 plus any local fees from your county agricultural department.

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. This means hemp is no longer federally regulated as a drug and is recognized as an agricultural commodity.

What is industrial hemp? defined in the California Health and Safety Code as a crop from the plant cannabis sativa L, that has no more than three-tenths of 1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops.

It is important to note that CBD remains illegal on the federal level. The federal stance on hemp-derived CBD is still unclear and could leave those engaging in such business susceptible to federal investigation.

What the 2018 Farm Bill did do was allow for the cultivation of hemp much more broadly. Hemp and hemp products can even be moved across state borders because the crop is federally legal (though we advise not trucking through Idaho). The Farm Bill also left oversight of the plant’s cultivation largely to state departments of agriculture.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has confirmed industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, though this was back in 2013; however, the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 only became effective in 2017 under CDFA’s Industrial Hemp Program as part of Prop 64. Since then, while manufacturing, processing, and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products has been legal, cultivation has required state registration, but no registration process was available.

Due to the lag time in regulations being approved by the CDFA, over 20 counties passed moratoriums on industrial hemp cultivation, including Amador, Calaveras, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Shasta, Tehama, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, formation of regulations has been placed on an accelerated pace. As mentioned previously, you can now register to grow, but there are no regulations. That is the next phase of regulations: providing the framework for the sampling, testing, and procedures for crop destruction should a hemp crop exceed the three-tenths of 1% THC level.

While you can now legally cultivate hemp in California, future regulations may cause your crop to be noncompliant. You may lose your whole yield. So, yes, hemp cultivation has come to California, but you may want to be cautious.

If you would like to know your best options for hemp cultivation or if you would like to know your counties regulations on hemp give us a call.

For more on California regulations regarding Industrial hemp you can see Division 24 of the California Food and Agriculture Code.

Regarding hemp-derived CBD in food products: It is decidedly illegal under federal direction. In California, the Department of Public Health issued a state policy last July prohibiting hemp-derived CBD in food products, which aligned with the FDA’s stance. This is because California incorporates federal law regarding food additives, dietary use products, food labeling, and good manufacturing practices for food. So while CBD can be in foods with over 0.3% THC as such foods are considered ‘cannabis goods’, it cannot be in foods with lower THC counts.

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