Since the mid-1990s, there has been a resurgence of interest in the United States in producing industrial hemp. Farmers in regions of the country that are highly dependent upon a single crop, such as tobacco or wheat, have shown interest in hemp’s potential as a high-value alternative crop, although the economic studies conducted so far paint a mixed profitability picture. Beginning around 1995, an increasing number of state legislatures began to consider a variety of initiatives related to industrial hemp. Most of these have been resolutions calling for scientific, economic, or environmental studies, and some are laws authorizing planting experimental plots under state statutes. Nonetheless, the actual planting of hemp, even for state-authorized experimental purposes, remains regulated by DEA under the CSA.
Following enactment of the 2014 farm bill provision allowing for growing hemp under certain circumstances, several states have quickly been adopting new state laws to allow for cultivation. To date, more than 30 states or territories have enacted or introduced legislation favorable to hemp cultivation (Figure 6). Other states reportedly considering hemp legislation include Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.53 (The status of state actions regarding hemp is changing rapidly, and information differs depending on source.54)
Requirements differ among the states, and some states—Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Virginia—have enacted laws that are considered more comprehensive than others.55
Some common provisions across these state laws include:56
- defining industrial hemp (based on the percentage of THC it contains) and excluding industrial hemp from the definition of “controlled substances” under state law;
- authorizing the growing and possessing of industrial hemp by creating an advisory board or commission;
- establishing or authorizing a state licensing or registration program for growers and/or seed breeders;
- requiring recordkeeping;
- requiring waivers or changes to federal law;
- establishing or authorizing fee structures;
- establishing inspection procedures;
- allowing state departments to collect funds for research programs;
- promoting research and development of markets for industrial hemp;
- establishing certified seed requirements57 or, in some states, “heritage hemp seeds” (e.g., in Colorado and Kentucky); and
- establishing penalties.
Some states have well-developed guidelines for growers, covering issues such as registration and reporting requirements, inspection, THC testing and threshold determination, seed availability and certification, pesticide use, production standards, and other information. Other general requirements may apply under some circumstances. For example, in 2016, USDA published guidance on organic certification of industrial hemp products.58 Some are calling for the need to develop more far-reaching consensus standards for a range of cannabis varieties given concerns about the general lack of standards and test methods.59 Production of industrial hemp has been reported in several states (Table 2).
Among the states that have enacted taxation and/or fees for industrial hemp are California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia.60