Becoming a hemp farmer in Alabama means following both local and federal laws. While the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 declassified hemp as a controlled substance, you still can’t produce it in every state. Being aware of the rules and regulations that impact your ability to farm is essential for a successful business in hemp.
Hemp is a agricultural commodity
As of December 20, 2018, hemp became a cultural commodity as long as it has less than 0.3 percent THC. This is the national standard, so all states follow suit. Having a hemp crop test with a higher THC level means it gets destroyed. Currently, hemp production is legal in 46 states only. The same federal bill that legalized hemp also allows those states that want to ban its production, to continue to do so within their borders. The states where it’s still illegal to farm hemp are:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
USDA weighs on US hemp laws
The Hemp Farming Act passed at the end of 2018. It took almost another year for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release regulations on domestic hemp production. The USDA handles establishing further regulations to keep hemp farming up to appropriate standards. They’ve had a lot to say already:
- Every hemp farmer must have a state license or authorization under a tribal hemp or USDA hemp program. In Alabama, it’s the state that issues licenses every year.
- Licensed farmers must report their hemp crop acreage to the Farm Service Agency. This helps the USDA establish a total number of acres devoted to hemp.
- Testing procedures from the USDA mirror those already in place in Alabama. This involves the THC level test done no earlier than 15 days before harvest. If the crop tests at a THC level above 0.3 percent, the crop must get destroyed. To uniform testing, it’s handled by a Drug Enforcement Administration-registered lab. You can find more on testing here.
Rules and regulations are very intricate. Make sure you’re familiar with them all if you’re considering becoming a hemp farmer.
The 2018 farm bill legalized hemp farming, but was quick to put in restrictions on who could do the work. This directly affects convicted felons. “A person with a state or federal felony conviction relating to a controlled substance is subject to a 10-year ineligibility restriction on producing hemp, with an exclusion for those who were lawfully growing hemp under the 2014 farm bill,” according to Farm Bureau. This means when filing for your hemp license, you must provide a completed criminal history report.
Since hemp isn’t legal to grow in all states, questions arose about the ability to sell it across state lines. What if the state you lived in allowed for hemp farming, but right next door it was illegal? There have been issues with trucks transporting legal hemp from one state to another, having to pass through a state where it isn’t legal. To clarify and protect product on the move, regulations state there are no restrictions on transporting hemp. This allows hemp farmers access to markets across the country, fully protected by US hemp laws.
When hemp becomes marijuana
If a hemp crop’s THC level tests above the 0.3 percent, it’s no longer hemp. The crop, by definition, then becomes marijuana and falls under the Controlled Substances Act. Disposal must happen accordingly, often by the DEA or local law enforcement. As the farmer, you need to document the disposal and then report it back to the USDA.
Additional resources related to US hemp laws
For more clarification on the US domestic hemp production program, the USDA provides an excellent webinar. Even more resources are available on the program website.
If you end up with questions about how the federal regulations tie into the state ones in Alabama, you’re not alone. This is a complicated process with a lot of rules to follow, and Arbor Vita8 can help. We have the knowledge, equipment and resources to support your grow every step of the way. Whether you need our assistance from start to finish or a la carte throughout the process, we pride ourselves on our commitment to supporting hemp farmers in Alabama. To learn more about our business and what we can offer you, contact us today.