In October of 2019, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) released proposed rules for cultivating and processing hemp. The substance was decriminalized in the summer of this year after Governor DeWine signed Senate Bill 57 into law. The bill required that the ODA develop standards for the state’s hemp program.
Proposed Hemp Cultivation Rules
According to the ODA’s proposals, if a person wishes to cultivate hemp, they must obtain a license and follow specific standards.
The rules define cultivation as the following in relation to a crop:
- Tilling, or
Applying for a License
A person or business interested in cultivating hemp must submit an application for a license. If it is approved, it is valid for 3 years, and the licensee must submit an application for renewal once their current one expires. The Department began accepting applications on November 1, 2019, and will stop on March 31, 2020. The goal is to allow hemp cultivation to begin by the spring of 2020.
For an applicant to be considered for a license, they must:
- Complete the application: The applicant must include their name, address, phone number, and email address. If they are a business, they must also list information of every person or entity with a controlling interest in the company. Each applicant must also submit the GPS coordinates of the location where the hemp will be grown, as well as the physical address and number of outdoor acres or indoor square footage of the cultivation area.
- Submit the application and annual fees: The application fee is $100, and the annual license fee is $500.
- Complete a background check: Every person or entity with a controlling interest in hemp cultivation must submit to a criminal background check. If they were convicted of a crime within 10 years of applying for a cultivation license, the ODA will deny the application.
- File a license update form during the second and third years of the license period: The updated form must be completed before March 31st.
The license is valid only for the individual or business with a controlling interest in the hemp cultivation. If a person is convicted of a specific offense during the license period, the ODA will revoke or suspend it.
After an individual or business receives their cultivation license, they must comply with ODA rules.
The licensee cannot:
- Cultivate non-hemp cannabis, which includes hemp varieties that are prohibited by the ODA
- Grow hemp in an unapproved area
- Cultivate hemp within 100 feet of a residential structure
- Handle or store hemp in a residential structure
- Mix hemp with other crops unless they have permission from the ODA to do so
- Grow hemp in an outdoor area of less than one-quarter acre
- Grow hemp in an indoor area of less than 1,000 square feet
- Grow hemp within half a mile of a medical marijuana cultivator
- Grow hemp within 500 feet of a school or public park
On July 1st of each year of the license period, the cultivator must submit a planting report. The report must also be filed at least 15 days before the licensee plans on planting or replanting hemp.
The licensee must include information about:
- Where the hemp will be grown,
- How many acres or square feet will be planted, and
- The intended use of the plant
Producing Clones and Seeds
If the licensee is cultivating clones and seed for propagation purposes, they cannot sell them to anyone who is not a licensed cultivator. They must also maintain information about the strain or variety of the plants, as well as sales records.
Maintaining Volunteer Plants
The cultivator must examine unused pieces of land for volunteer hemp. If any is found, they must destroy it; otherwise, the ODA will take enforcement action.
Harvesting and Destroying Hemp
Before the licensee harvests their hemp, they must submit a form to the ODA at least 15 days before doing so. The department will sample the substance to determine its THC content. The department may also conduct random sampling of hemp on licensed cultivators’ properties. If a sample has a THC level of more than 0.3%, the plants in the cultivation area may be destroyed.
If a licensed cultivator wishes to destroy their hemp, they must submit a report to the ODA. Personnel from the department must be present to watch the destruction process.
Proposed Hemp Processing Rules
As with cultivating hemp, if a person wishes to process the plant – turn it into a hemp product – they must first obtain a license to do so.
The proposed rules for getting a hemp processing license are similar to those for a cultivation one. The license is good for 3 years and must be renewed after it expires. The applicant must also submit their personal information, the growing location, the processing fees, and a criminal background check. Additionally, they must also state what hemp products will be made with the plant.
Meeting Financial Responsibility Standards
The licensee must have assets valued at $10,000 or at least 5% of the amount of the raw, unprocessed hemp product they made the previous year.
Inspecting and Sampling the Plant
The ODA may inspect and sample the hemp of licensed processors. The department personnel must be given unrestricted access to the land or buildings where the plant is grown.
The licensee must also have a laboratory test a random sample of every batch of hemp they process.
Obtaining Hemp Materials
Licensees who plan to extract or sell cannabinoids (CBD) must obtain their material from a licensed hemp cultivator in Ohio or another state with a program approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Establishing Extraction Procedures
Hemp processors must have in place an operational plan for extracting CBD from hemp.
The procedures must include:
- Standards and guidelines for processing hemp
- Training and safety procedures
- Records of the methods, techniques, and standards used to extract CBD
Removing Hemp Waste and Byproducts
Any hemp waste or byproducts the processor has must be properly disposed of. It must be rendered unusable by grinding and mixing it with non-consumable waste. The material must be locked in a container and removed by a waste removal company. The licensee must keep a record of all disposals.
Labeling Hemp Products
All licensees must label their products with the amount of hemp in the item, the batch or coding lot, and a statement that says the consumer should consult with a health care professional before using it.
Licensed processors are prohibited from selling the following products:
- Anything that contains more than 0.3% THC
- Those that laboratory testing reveals failed to meet cannabis standards
- Anything made in violation of state laws or ODA rules
For a 5-year period, each licensed processor must maintain records of the hemp-related activities carried out on the premises.
The records the licensee is required to keep include information about:
- The purchase of raw, unprocessed hemp material
- The purchase and use of extracted CBD
- The extraction methods
- Lab testing results
- Disposal methods
When Do the Proposed Rules Take Effect?
The proposed hemp cultivation and processing rules have not gone into effect yet. A public hearing for them is scheduled for December 18, 2019.
For Legal Representation, Contact The Meranda Law Firm LTD
When the Ohio Department of Agriculture's proposed rules take effect, individuals and businesses looking to cultivate and process hemp will be required to follow strict regulations, or they may face penalties. Our lawyers provide skilled cannabis consulting in Columbus and can help navigate the complex legal system.
Schedule a free consultation by calling us at (614) 707-4239 or contacting us online.