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How to Get a Hemp Growing License in Your State

Interested in learning how to get a hemp growing license?

Just because the 2018 Farming Bill plowed the fertile fields of the industrial hemp market for American farmers, there are still legal hurdles to be jumped. Growing hemp in the US is not as legally straightforward as corn or soybeans. In fact, the licensing process in some ways is similar to medical marijuana.

What the 2018 Farming Bill Says

The two primary changes made at the federal level with regards to hemp by the 2018 Farming Bill were legalizing the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity and removing it from the list of controlled substances.

Additionally, the bill directed the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation board to streamline the process for developing hemp policies and listed hemp as a covered commodity under the crop insurance.

Though the law vastly expanded the abilities of American farmers to grow hemp, it did not create a system in which a farmer could grow the crops as freely as other agricultural commodities, such as tomatoes or corn. To be compliant with the restrictions put in place, producers can not grow plants that produce a THC content higher than 0.3 THC or cultivate the crop without a license.

Those licensing procedures are developed by state governments and submitted to the secretary of agriculture for approval.

General Guidelines for How to Get a Hemp Growing License

Though you will have to check with the specific regulations for licensing and registration in your state, there are some common requirements you should be prepared to face when you’re thinking about how to get a hemp growing license.

Most growers will need to undergo a criminal background check, which is the sort of thing you’ll have to do for a marijuana growing license, but certainly not soybeans.

You will also most likely need to provide the exact location, usually via GPS coordinates, of your proposed crop sites.

Maintaining your hemp growing license will also depend on following certain procedures, including keeping records and reporting sales or distribution. These records will most likely need to be presented to the state agencies overseeing the industrial hemp growing in your state. Additionally, the agencies will also conduct inspections of the crops and test the plants to ensure that they are compliant.

In most states, there will also be a need to renew your license or registration every one to three years.

A Lifetime Hemp Growing License in Wisconsin

To grow or process industrial hemp in Wisconsin, you need a license. A grower license allows you to plant and harvest hemp. A processor license allows you to handle, store, and convert hemp into a marketable form.

Though these are lifetime licenses, you need to register annually with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

By submitting your licensing and registration forms, you consent to allow DATCP to conduct a background check on you. If the applicant is a business, a background check will be conducted on the operations manager.

A license will be denied to anyone with either federal or state criminal drug convictions.

The one-time licensing fee for a grower is dependent on how much land you’re setting aside for your hemp crops. For 0-30 acres, it’s $150. For 31-199 acres, it’s $5 an acre. Any farmer putting together an industrial hemp crop that will use 200 or more acres needs to pay $1,000.

The annual grower registration is $350, while it’s an additional $50 for any changes made to the acreage originally listed on the license.

The other charges hemp farmers face when jumping through legal hoops in Wisconsin is the $250 sample and test fees, which need to be completed for each field and for each hemp variety being grown.

Colorado Growers, Read Up

In Colorado, there is a 23-page document diving into all the details with regards to growing industrial hemp in that state. A completed and signed application for growers wanting to farm in Colorado must be submitted at least 30 days prior to planting.

That application requires a lot of what you might expect from any such application with regard to the location of the grow site, a map of the area, your name, permission to conduct a background check, and so on.

It’s important to note that in Colorado — and most states for that matter — each noncontiguous land area designated for industrial hemp needs to be registered separately.

The annual fee for registering your hemp farm in Colorado is $500 plus $5.00/acre outdoors and/or $.33/1000 square feet indoors.

It’s also essential to realize that these registrations are not flexible. You will be required to plant, grow, and harvest your crops within the timeframe that your registration is valid. Any remaining crops that are not harvested or destroyed will need to be declared for inclusion in a subsequent registration — which starts making your paperwork just a little more hairy.

Final Thoughts: How to Get a Hemp Growing License in Your State

Though the laws in Wisconsin and Colorado give you a taste of what to expect, when figuring out how to get a hemp growing license, you’ll need to check the details for your specific state to ensure that your application isn’t denied.

Thankfully, the requirements for how to get a hemp growing license in each state seem to be fairly standard across the board.

You should expect to provide lots of personal identifying information, GPS coordinates of the grow site, the size of the grow site, and a map of the site as part of the application.

The checklist for an application to grow industrial hemp in Tennessee does a pretty good job of clarifying needs:

  • Applicant information page completed and signed
  • Growing area information page(s) completed
  • Aerial map of physical address (with each growing area outlined and numbered)
  • Personal copy of application saved

Don’t forget that you’re not going to want to file your application with an operations manager who has a drug-related criminal record.

Once you’ve got your license and registration, don’t forget to check with the experts to ensure you end up planting the best clones and certified seeds on the market.

Fallon Hanley

View posts by Fallon Hanley
Fallon boasts 15 years of experience in growing and breeding cannabis and hemp, and managing grows.