Here's Where You Can Find Hemp Laws Specific To Your State:
President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, or the 2014 Farm Bill, which featured Section 7606 allowing for universities and state departments of agriculture
to begin cultivating industrial hemp for limited purposes. Specifically, the law allows universities and state departments of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp if:
“(1) the industrial hemp is grown or cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research;
(2) the growing or cultivating of industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the state in which such institution of higher education or state department of
agriculture is located and such research occurs.”
The law also requires that the grow sites be certified by—and registered with—their state.
In 2015, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of
2015 that would allow American farmers to produce and cultivate industrial hemp. The bill would remove hemp from the controlled substances list as long as it contained no more than 0.3 percent
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, released a
Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp in the Federal Register on Aug 12, 2016, to inform the public on the applicable activities related to hemp in the 2014 Farm Bill.
At least 30 states passed legislation related to industrial hemp. Generally, states have taken three approaches: (1) establish industrial hemp research and/or pilot
programs, (2) authorize studies of the industrial hemp industry, or (3) establish commercial industrial hemp programs. Some states establishing these programs require a change in federal laws or a
waiver from the DEA prior to implementation.
At least 16 states have legalized industrial hemp production for commercial purposes and 20 states have passed laws allowing research and pilot programs. Seven
states—Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Virginia—have approved the creation of both pilot/research and commercial programs. Many of the states that have
legalized hemp cultivation for commercial purposes specify that state law does not allow for violation of federal law. States including California, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana and Virginia
have established a framework for regulating commercial hemp but still consider hemp illegal outside of research programs unless federal law changes.
State statutes, with the exception of West Virginia, define industrial hemp as a variety of cannabis with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent. West
Virginia defines hemp as cannabis with a THC concentration of less than 1 percent.
Many state definitions for industrial hemp specify that THC concentration is on a dry weight basis and can be measured from any part of the plant. Some states also
require the plant to be possessed by a licensed grower for it to be considered under the definition of industrial hemp.
Research and Pilot Programs:
At least 20 states have passed laws creating industrial hemp research or pilot programs. State agencies and institutions of higher education administer these programs
in order to study the cultivation, processing, and economics of industrial hemp. Pilot programs may be limited to a certain period of time and may require periodic reporting from participants and
state agencies. Some states establish specific regulatory agencies or committees, rules, and goals to oversee the research programs. States may also require coordination between specific colleges or
universities and the programs, in other states coordination is optional. From 2015 to 2016, seven states enacted legislation to create hemp research or pilot programs, including recent action in
Pennsylvania (H.B. 976) and Hawaii (S.B. 2659).
While industrial hemp research and pilot programs typically focus on studying the cultivation, processing for certain products and economic impacts of hemp, some
states have specific guidelines and intended goals. Here are some examples of unique state research goals:
- Colorado S.B. 184 (2014) created an Industrial Hemp Grant Research Program for state universities to research
and develop hemp strains that are best suited for industrial applications and develop new seed strains.
- Kentucky’s industrial hemp research program studies the environmental benefit or impact of hemp, the potential
use of hemp as an energy source or biofuel, and the agronomy research being conducted worldwide relating to hemp.
- The North Carolina Hemp Commission studies the best practices for soil conservation and restoration in
collaboration with two state universities.
Licensing, Registration and Permitting:
To ensure hemp is grown only for research purposes, growers must be licensed, registered or permitted with the state agency overseeing the pilot or research program.
Requirements for registration, licenses and permits might include:
- Criminal background checks.
- Periodic renewals, usually every one to three years.
- Registering the location or Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates of grow sites.
- Record keeping and reporting any sales or distributions including to whom it was sold or distributed, including
- Documentation from the state agency or institution of higher education to prove the grower is participating in an approved
The state agencies overseeing these programs are typically authorized to conduct inspections, test the plants and review records. State agencies may revoke licenses
and impose civil and criminal penalties against growers who violate regulations.
Seed Certification and Access:
Access to viable seed may present a challenge for research programs and commercial growers. To implement commercial and research hemp programs, farmers need access to
seeds that are guaranteed to produce plants that fall under the legal definition of hemp. These seeds can be difficult to obtain, however, because hemp is still regulated under the federal
Controlled Substances Act. In response to this problem, Colorado’s governor sent a letter to the U.S. secretary of agriculture in 2014 requesting the federal government address hemp seed
States are taking independent action to regulate industrial hemp seeds. At least 11 states have seed certification programs and/or require that growers use certified
hemp seeds or acquire their seeds from a certified seed source. Certified seeds are usually defined as seeds that contain less than 0.3 percent THC or produce hemp plants that contain less than 0.3
At least four states have also established specific licenses or certification programs for hemp seed distributors and producers:
- California requires seed breeders to register with their local county agricultural commissioner.
- Indiana allows growers who obtain an agricultural hemp seed production license to produce seeds. Licensees may
then sell seeds or retain them to propagate future crops.
- Maine allows the commissioner of agriculture, conservation and forestry to issue licenses to seed distributors
if their seeds are from a certified seed source.
- Oregon requires growers who produce hemp seeds capable of germination to register with the Oregon Department
of Agriculture if they intend to sell seeds. Growers who wish to retain seeds do not need to register as a seed producer.
Criminal Justice and Legalization:
State legislation also has removed hemp from the state’s controlled substances list and exempted industrial hemp from the statutory definition of marijuana if
it is grown within specific regulations.
To protect growers from criminal prosecution some states provide an affirmative defense for cannabis possession and cultivation charges under controlled substances
law for licensed individuals. States may require licensees to obtain a controlled substances registration from the DEA for the affirmative defense to apply.
For a summary of state laws related to industrial hemp, click on the states in the map below or see the chart for a complete list of state statues.
Note that some states laws establishing commercial industrial hemp programs require a change in federal law or waivers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency before
those programs can be implemented by the state.
State Citation Summary:
Ala. Code § 2-8-380 to 2-8-383 and § 20-2-2 (2016)
- Creates an industrial hemp research program overseen by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries to study hemp.
- The department may coordinate the study with institutions of higher education.
Cal. Food and Agric. Code §81000 to 81010 (West 2016)
- Allows for a commercial hemp program overseen by the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board within the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
- Establishes registration for seed breeders.
- This division will not become operative unless authorized under federal law.
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 35-61-101 to 35-61-109 (2016)
- Allows hemp cultivation for commercial and research purposes to be overseen by the Industrial Hemp Committee under the Department of Agriculture.
- Establishes a seed certification program.
- Establishes a grant program for state institutions of higher education to research new hemp seed varieties.
2014 Conn. Acts, P.A. #14-191 (Reg. Sess.)
- Created an industrial hemp feasibility study which reported to the state legislature on Jan. 1, 2015.
Del. Code Ann. tit. 3 § 2800 to 2802 (2016)
- Establishes an industrial hemp research program overseen by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
- Allows the department to certify institutions of higher education to cultivate hemp for research purposes.
Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 141A to 141J and § 712 (2016)
- Establishes an industrial hemp pilot program overseen by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
- Allows the Board of Agriculture to certify hemp seeds.
Ill. Ann. Stat. ch. 720 § 550/15.2 (Smith-Hurd 2016)
- Creates an industrial hemp pilot program which allows the Illinois Department of Agriculture or state institutions of higher education to grow hemp for research
- Requires institutions of higher education provide annual reports to the department.
Ind. Code Ann. § 15-15-13-1 to 15-15-13-17 (2016)
- Allows the production and possession of hemp by licensed growers for commercial and research purposes.
- Growers and handlers of hemp seeds must obtain a hemp seed production license.
- Nothing in this section allows anyone to violate federal law.
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 260.850 to 260.869 (2016)
- Creates an industrial hemp research program and a commercial licensing program to allow hemp cultivation for any legal purpose.
- The commercial growers’ license shall only be allowed subject to the legalization of hemp under federal law.
- Growers are required to use certified seeds and may import or resell certified seeds.
- Mandates the University of Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station oversee a five year hemp research program.
- Creates the Industrial Hemp Commission, attached to the Agricultural Experiment Station, to oversee, among other things, the licensing, testing and implementation of
regulations and rules related to hemp.
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 7 § 2231 (2016)
- Allows hemp growing for commercial purposes.
- Establishes a license for seed distributors.
Md. Agriculture Code Ann. § 14-101 (2016)
- Establishes a license allowing individuals to plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell, or buy industrial hemp in Maryland.
- Authorizes the Maryland Department of Agriculture or an institution of higher education to grow hemp for research purposes.
Mich. Comp. Laws § 286.841 to 286.844 (2016)
- Creates an industrial hemp research program allowing the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and institutions of higher education to grow hemp
for research purposes.
Minn. Stat. § 18K.01 to 18K.09 (2016)
- Establishes a commercial hemp licensing program overseen by the Minnesota commissioner of agriculture.
- Applicants must prove they comply with all federal hemp regulations, meaning that commercial licenses may not be available until federal law changes.
- Allows the commissioner to implement an industrial hemp pilot program. Institutions of higher education may apply to participate in this program.
Mont. Code Ann. § 80-18-101 to 80-18-111 (2016)
- Allows the Montana Department of Agriculture to implement a commercial hemp licensing program.
- Requires commercial growers to use certified seeds.
- Requires a federal controlled substances registration from the DEA for the affirmative defense against marijuana charges to apply.
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 2-5701 (2016)
- Allows a postsecondary institution or the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to grow hemp for research purposes.
Nev. Rev. Stat. § 557.010 to 557.080 (2016)
- Mandates the Nevada Board of Agriculture implement an industrial hemp pilot program.
- Allows institutions of higher education and the Nevada Department of Agriculture to grow hemp for research purposes.
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 433-C:1 to 433-C:3 (2016)
- Allows institutions of higher education to cultivate hemp for research purposes.
- All research must be coordinated with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food.
- All research projects must conclude within three years of commencement.
2014 N.H. Laws, Chap. 18
- Established a committee to study the growth and sale of industrial hemp in New Hampshire.
- The study was required to report their findings by Nov. 1, 2014.
N.Y. Agriculture and Markets Law § 505 to 508 (McKinney 2016)
- Allows the growth of hemp as part of an agricultural pilot program by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and/or an institution of higher
- The commissioner of agriculture and markets may authorize no more than 10 sites for growing hemp as part of a pilot program.
- The commissioner may develop regulations to authorize the acquisition and possession of industrial hemp seeds.
- 1 NYCRR 159.2 allows authorized growers to possess, grow and cultivate seeds and hemp plants.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 106-568.50 to 106-568.54 and § 90-87(16) (2016)
- Creates an agricultural hemp pilot program overseen by the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission within the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
- The commission must collaborate with North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University.
N.D. Cent. Code § 4-41-01 to 4-41-03 and § 4-05.1-05 (2016)
- Allows hemp cultivation for commercial or research purposes overseen by the North Dakota agricultural commissioner.
- Growers must use certified seeds. Licensees may import, resell and plant hemp seeds.
- Permits the North Dakota State University Main Research Center to conduct research on industrial hemp and hemp seeds.
Or. Rev. Stat § 571.300 to § 571.315 (2016)
- Allows individuals registered by the Oregon Department of Agriculture to grow hemp for commercial purposes.
- Growers and handlers who intend to sell or distribute seeds must be licensed as seed producers.
Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. tit. 3 § 701 to 710 (Purdon 2016)
- Allows institutions of higher education or the Department of Agriculture of the commonwealth to research hemp under an industrial hemp pilot program.
- This chapter shall expire if the secretary of agriculture of the commonwealth determines a federal agency is authorized to regulate hemp.
R.I. Gen. Laws § 2-26-1 to 2-26-9 (2016)
- Establishes a commercial hemp program overseen by the Department of Business Regulation.
- Allows the Division of Agriculture in the Department of Environmental Management to assist the Department of Business Regulation in regulating hemp.
- Growers must verify they are using certified seeds.
- The department shall authorize institutions of higher education to grow hemp for research purposes.
S.C. Code Ann. § 46-55-10 to 46-55-40 (Law. Co-op 2016)
- Allows hemp growth for commercial and research purposes.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 43-26-101 to 43-26-103 (2016)
- Allows commercial hemp production overseen by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
- Directs the commissioner of agriculture to develop licensing rules for processors and distributors.
- Allows institutions of higher education to acquire and study seeds for research and possible certification.
Utah Code Ann. § 4-41-101 to 4-41-103 (2016)
- Allows the Utah Department of Agriculture to grow hemp for research purposes.
- Requires that the department certify institutions of higher education to grow hemp for research purposes.
Vt. Stat Ann. tit. 6 § 561 to 566 (2016)
- Allows for commercial hemp production overseen by the Vermont secretary of agriculture, food and markets.
- Requires the registration form advise applicants that hemp is still listed and regulated as cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Va. Code § 3.2-4112 to 3.2-4120 (2016)
- Authorizes research and commercial hemp programs overseen by the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia commissioner of agriculture and
- The commissioner must establish separate licenses for the research program and for commercial growers.
- Nothing in this chapter allows individuals to violate federal laws.
Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 15.120.005 to 15.120.050 (2016)
- Allows hemp production as part of a research program overseen by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
- Requires the department establish a seed certification program.
W. Va. Code. § 19-12E-1 to 19-12E-9 (2016)
- Allows hemp production for commercial purposes by growers licensed by the West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture.
- Growers must use seeds which produce plants containing less than 1 percent THC.