The Oregon Department of Agriculture has adopted administrative rules that allow for industrial hemp production and create a framework for a new agricultural industry in the state. The rules define production and handling requirements while establishing a permit and licensing process for growers of industrial hemp, which includes fees associated with ODA's program. With the adoption of the rules, ODA is expecting a crop to be planted this spring as permits will soon be issued.
The rules support a 2009 law passed by the Oregon Legislature authorizing industrial hemp production and possession. While industrial hemp, as defined in Oregon law, is arguably a safe crop and commodity, it is still classified by the federal government as illegal. With the help of a rules advisory committee, ODA sought to write rules that adhere to state laws but also in a manner that will be tolerated by federal enforcement agencies.
ODA oversight and other measures such as licensing and permits, which are unnecessary for conventional crops, are required by law for industrial hemp. The rules advisory committee recommended a license and permit fee large enough to cover ODA's administrative costs but still be affordable to growers and handlers. It was also the committee's goal to establish a self-sustaining, fee-for-service program for inspection, sampling, and testing.
With adoption of the rules, individuals can apply for licenses to grow or handle industrial hemp fiber and for permits to grow agricultural hemp seed, in which case a license is also required. Fees for each are set at $1,500 and are valid for three years. Oregon's industrial hemp law allows for hemp seed to only be used to plant new crops. The law also requires that the size of the industrial hemp crop of a grower be at least 2.5 contiguous acres and that industrial hemp contain less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to distinguish it from marijuana, which contains much higher THC levels.
Currently, there is not a supply of agricultural hemp seed available in Oregon. ODA is looking into the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's permit process to import seed into the state.
The rules describe requirements for record keeping and annual reporting by growers as well as ODA's sampling and inspection requirements and processes.
More information on ODA's industrial hemp program, including a downloadable application form for permits and licenses, can be found at: <http://go.usa.gov/hbfF> or by calling (503) 986-4620.
Source: Oregon Department Of Agriculture