10 things you need to know before growing hemp
Hemp is a sibling to marijuana and looks exactly like marijuana. The only difference between the two is in the level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which causes hallucinogenic effects.
Hemp seed can be hard to find and expensive. Buying seed from a reputable dealer is critical to prevent the crop from containing more than 0.3% THC.
Hemp growers and processors have to get a license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture must test hemp before it is harvested to ensure the THC levels are below 0.3%. Then, the hemp must be harvested within 15 days of the test.
If farmers produce a crop of hemp that tests over the 0.3% limit for THC, the crop is considered to be marijuana and must be destroyed.
Grown for textiles or plastics, hemp has a planting rate of about 400,000 per acre. Hemp for CBD oil is grown at 1,000 to 2,000 plants per acre.
Growing hemp for CBD oil is more labor intensive and similar to growing tobacco, while cultivating hemp for fiber is more like cultivating a traditional row crop, planted much like corn or soy.
Hemp grown to produce CBD oil uses only female plants and farmers typically buy them as plants – not seeds. (The female plants focus on producing flowers, which is needed for CBD; the male plants focus on producing more seeds.)
Hemp thrives in warm weather and in soil that drains well. Hemp grown for CBD oil requires a lot of water and likely an irrigation source.
Having a signed contract with a buyer before planting is highly encouraged as current trends make the prospect of selling hemp on the open market unlikely, or at a reduced price.
(Source: OSU Extension, the outreach arm of the College Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences)
Hemp Program FAQ
WSDA will provide all information, including licensed Hemp producers in the State of Washington for 2020 and beyond. The only information not provided is any Personal Identifiable Information, like Social Security Numbers. The public information will become available on the WSDA Hemp website soon, the information product is under development. The information will include telephone numbers and email addresses, including data about licensed growing areas.
All licensee information from the previous Industrial Hemp Research Pilot program can also be disclosed to the public. The only information not disclosed is Personal Identifiable Information, like Social Security Numbers. The information is available on the Hemp Program main page. If there is information not listed that you require, please submit a Public Records request located here.
Where can I find that state statute for the Hemp Program?
Do I need a license to grow hemp in the State of Washington?
Yes. Our state law (RCW 15.140.060) says:
"The department must issue hemp producer licenses to applicants qualified under this chapter and the agriculture improvement act of 2018. The department may adopt rules pursuant to this chapter and chapter 34.05 RCW as necessary to license persons to grow hemp under a commercial hemp program."
ListServ (Program Updates)
Is there an email list for those who want to stay up-to-date with the Hemp Program?
What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana
What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
"Hemp means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seed thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis."
"Marijuana" or marihuana" means all parts of the plant Cannabis, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 THC concentration greater than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis."
What is THCA and delta-9 THC?
How much delta-9 THC is allowed in hemp?
By law , all hemp must contain a delta-9 THC concentration of 0.3% or less by dry weight, this will also include the laboratories "Measurement of Uncertainty"
The measurement of uncertainty is similar to a margin of error. When the measurement of uncertainty, normally expressed as a +/- with a number, (e.g., +/- 0.05) is combined with the reported measurement, it produces a range and the actual measurement has a known probability of falling within that range.
For example, if a laboratories measurement of uncertainty is 0.05 percent and the delta-9 THC measured in the tested material is 0.35 percent, the 0.05 is added and subtracted to the 0.35 percent value. The range would then be 0.40 percent to 0.30 percent. With the measurement of uncertainty included, this scenario would allow the material tested to comply because the lower value is at 0.30 percent.
What happens if my field or lot of hemp tests over 0.3% delta-9 THC?
What is the meaning of Total THC?
Delta-9 THC is the number that needs to be 0.3 percent or below for Hemp. There are two common testing methodologies for THC concentration testing:
Gas Chromatography: This method uses heat and de-carboxylates the THCA in the material tested. The only result that is measured is delta-9 THC.
High-Performance Liquid Chromatography: This method is without heat and the THCA amount is measured, including delta-9 THC if present (Total THC).
After the measurement a scientific calculation is applied to find the delta-9 THC amount in the THCA: (delta-9 THC = delta-9 THC + (THCA * .877))
The equation states 87.7% of the measured THCA is delta-9 THC. The remaining 13.3% is the carbon atom that is lost during de-carboxylation . This is then added to the delta-9 THC amount that was measured in the Hemp material. The result is the total delta-9 THC in the material tested.
Delta-9 THC can naturally be present in plant material and is caused by things such as sunlight, heat, amount of time flower has been on the plant, stress etc.
Application and Licensing
What are the availiable loans for hemp farms?
Whether you are considering starting a new venture or expanding your existing farm business, access to adequate capital can be a challenge. To address this need, there are loan and grant programs specifically for farm and food businesses. Farms may also be eligible for small business loan programs based on a range of criteria: minority or women-run, youth, business location in a rural area, etc. See the loan factsheet for more information.
What would prohibit me from obtaining a Hemp Producer License?
How much will it cost to be licensed by the Hemp Program?
The Legislature provided WSDA initial funding to get the program started. Now that the program is in place, license fees will support the program. The Hemp Program estabilished user-fee rates as part of the rule-making process. The fees were set at a level that supports the program, but are not so burdensome as to keep people from participating.
Effective June 1 2020, license fees are as follows:
Annual License Fee: $1200
License Modification Fee: $200/1
Late Licensing Fee (After March 31): $200/2
/1 See WAC 16-306-050(8)
/2 In addition to license fee.
What is the process for obtaining a Hemp Production License?
Applying is the first step. You will fill out an application online. Once your application is submitted, you will receive an application submission email with an invoice attached. Then, you will send a check for 1200 dollars to the address on your invoice, including your invoice number as a reference. If there is information missing, this will delay the processing of your application. We will notify you via email about the needed information if required. Once the application is complete and check is received, you will receive your license.
Where can I get an application to produce hemp?
You can apply for a hemp license using our online application at https://fortress.wa.gov/agr/apps/Hemp
You will need to complete a background check and upload and attach it to the online application. Upon completion of the application, you will receive an email with an invoice for your application fee. Mail a copy of your invoice with your check to us to complete the application process.
Is a criminal history report required?
How can I obtain a criminal history report?
Do I need to register my Hemp crop with the USDA Farm Services Agency (FSA)?
Licensed producers must also report their hemp crop acreage to the FSA. When reporting to FSA, producers must provide their State or Tribe-issued license or authorization number. The requirement that producers report hemp crop acreage to FSA establishes an identification system for hemp production nationwide and complies with the information sharing requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill.
A link to FSA information on how to report hemp crop acreage to FSA is available at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Assets/USDA-FSAPublic/usdafiles/FactSheets/2019/crop-acreage-reporting-19.pdf and will be provided on the USDA hemp production program website.
Will I be able to grow hemp indoors and outdoors?
Will I need security to grow hemp?
Are signs required for growing Hemp?
Will there be minimum or maximum field sizes for hemp?
Is insurance available for my Hemp crop?
Can my hemp be certified as organic?
Which pesticides can I use on my hemp crop?
Lab Testing and Sampling Protocols
What is the definition of a Hemp sample?
Within 15-days prior to the expected harvest of cannabis plants, a WSDA inspector shall collect representative samples from such cannabis plants for THC concentration level testing.
The sample taken from cannabis plants will comprise with a cut made just underneath the flowering material, meaning inflorescence (the flower or bud of a plant), at the top one-third (1/3) of the plant. The sample size must be of adequate volume to accommodate laboratory tests.
What are the fees for Hemp Sampling and Testing?
Hemp inspection (sampling) fees:
$200 per inspection
$40.00 per hour (including travel time – one-way)
Mileage will be charged at the rate established by the Washington State Office of Financial Management
See WAC 16-30-160 for the inspection (sampling) fees.
Hemp delta-9 THC testing fees:
When delta-9 THC concentration testing is performed at department-approved laboratories, testing fees will be subject to actual laboratory costs, including sample transportation.
See WAC 16-306-160 for the THC testing fees.
Where can I access the Testing and Sampling Protocols?
The WSDA Testing and Sampling Protocols can be accessed at the below links.
Testing Protocol – Click here
Sampling Protocol – Click here
What is the WSDA procedure for finding approved laboratories to conduct testing?
WSDA has the ability to initiate a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit proposals from laboratories interested in testing Hemp across Washington State. There will be criteria laboratories will have to meet – click here for criteria. WSDA's intent is to have enough laboratories to meet Federal guidelines and industry demands for 2020 and beyond.
Is there voluntary testing for Hemp products intended for human consumption?
Processing and Manufacturing
Does the new Hemp Program license processors?
The WSDA Hemp Program will only license Hemp Farmer’s in the new 2020 program. Our state law (RCW 15.140.060) says: "The department must issue hemp producer licenses to applicants qualified under this chapter and the agriculture improvement act of 2018. The department may adopt rules pursuant to this chapter and chapter 34.05 RCW as necessary to license persons to grow hemp under a commercial hemp program."
No agency in the state of Washington has regulatory authority over Hemp processors. The only authority is for Food Processing and you will require a license through the WSDA Food Safety division – see below. There is also a license issued by WSDA to protect state farmers, the permit is issued by the Merchant Commission Act Licensing Program – see below.
Food Safety Program
WSDA now licenses and regulates makers of food products that contain Hemp. While CBD is not allowed as a food ingredient, WSDA licensed food processors can use other hemp products in food, such as hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein, and hempseed oil provided they comply with all other requirements. FDA has determined that these components are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) based on federal requirements. Search for “GRAS notices for hempseed derived ingredients for use in human foods” on the FDA website, www.fda.gov.
Email: [email protected].wa.gov
Phone: (360) 902-1876
Commission Merchants Act Licensing Program
The purpose of the Commission Merchants Act is to protect producers, buyers, and sellers of agricultural products against illegal practices. Any individuals and businesses who receive on consignment, take possession or control of, or act as brokers in the resale or processing of unprocessed agricultural products require licensing. This includes out of state processors who contract directly with Washington state producers.
What CBD products from Hemp are allowed?
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and WSDA do not permit CBD to be added to food and beverages or sold as a dietary supplement. The FDA is the overall authority for CBD products derived from Hemp. CBD products like tinctures, lotions, and topicals are allowed. Please view the WSDA Food Safety notice at the following link: https://agr.wa.gov/departments/food-safety/food-safety/hemp-and-hemp-extract-certification
Can a WSDA-licensed hemp producer grow hemp within their LCB-licensed marijuana producer/processor space?
- Submitting updated floor plans to the LCB's Licensing Division that reflect hemp producing/processing area(s), if hemp is being produced or processed within an LCB-licensed space.
- Ability to provide their WSDA "Hemp Production License" and LCB license to an enforcement officer upon request.
Can Hemp derived CBD be combined with an LCB regulated marijuana product?
Yes, hemp CBD can be combined with LCB-regulated marijuana products as additives if the relevant provisions of RCW and WAC are followed. RCW 69.50.326 and WAC 314-55-109.
Hemp products that are not CBD can also be used as an intermediate product in a regulated marijuana product (similar to flour, sugar, etc.).