Oregon legalized industrial hemp production in 2009, but you may not have heard because there were high barriers of entry, and only 13 producers ended up getting licensed. The law was intended for oilseed and fiber production on large-production farms.
Oregon’s new industrial hemp bill 4060, freshly signed into law, has lowered the barriers for entry and is more inviting to industrial hemp farmers growing for medical use. Industrial hemp is defined as cannabis with no more than 0.3% THC concentration and strains of cannabis with this low of THC concentration typically have high levels of CBD, a cannabinoid known for its medicinal properties.
One significant change in the bill is its removal of the minimum 2.5 acre canopy. Additional changes geared toward hemp production for medical use include the ability to grow in greenhouses and start plants from clones.
An industrial hemp license, issued by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), is needed to start cultivating hemp. If you are interested in growing hemp for seed production, you will need to obtain a separate agricultural hemp seed production permit.
Industrial hemp in Oregon can be used to make high CBD products for medical use, from infused pain-relief lotions to concentrated CBD tincture. Oregon hemp can also be used for clothing, batteries, paper, and hempcrete, as well as for other industrial uses.
Rep. Ann Lininger (D-Lake Oswego) has summarized Oregon’s goals succinctly in saying, “The Legislature’s teamwork on cannabis and industrial hemp this session will help keep our communities safe, support creation of a strong new business sector, and protect patients’ access to medicine.”
The bill has also gained support from the Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB) and Oregonians for Food & Shelter who back the goal of “regulating industrial hemp the same as any other agricultural commodity.”
Oregonians are eager for these adaptations to the law, and the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association members said they expect to grow at least 200 acres of industrial hemp in 2016.
The industrial hemp licenses are valid for a year and need to be renewed annually by the ODA. Other than the applicant’s name and GPS coordinates of the proposed plot, the only other requirement is a $500 fee. If granted the license, you are giving the ODA the authority to inspect your farm and take samples at any time. If your crop contains an average THC concentrate exceeding 0.3%, they may detain or seize the plants.
Rep. Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) says he is “tremendously excited by the possibilities” and assures, “the legal cannabis and hemp sectors can be a good source of jobs in rural and urban Oregon.”
The Oregon Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the 2016 growing season now.
Read the bill in its entirety here.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett