The provision could see some push back in the Senate, or from individuals like Attorney General Curtis Hill, who has been outspoken against marijuana legalization.
The farm bill permits “marketing research” but also says hemp shouldn’t be grown “for the purpose of general commercial activity.”
Industrial hemp, however, can’t get users high.
Heading into the start of the growing season this spring, the Office of Indiana State Chemist is warning growers to be aware of hemp seed scams, as reports of untrustworthy vendors are reaching the office.
Many farmers who test “hot” are still staying well under 1% THC levels, which is why they’re pushing for that to be the new cap.
“Once people are relying on you, and then those seeds are not there, it really creates a scramble,” he said. “And if you miss the planting deadlines, it really puts everybody at a disadvantage. Either they get their crop in later, which means it’ll grow smaller, or they’re not going to be able to get it in at all.”
“With soybeans and corn, you’re in the hundreds of dollars per acre in input costs and profitability possibilities,” Robison said. “Hemp, you’re in the tens of thousands.”
Even the first hemp adopters in Indiana have only been working with the plant for a handful of years, making it hard for farmers to gauge their plants’ maturity. And as cannabis has faced tumultuous regulation in the U.S., even researchers are catching up on understanding the plant.
Hemp can cost as much as $1 per seed, Robison said, meaning the cost of planting and maintaining an acre of hemp could amount to $8,000 to $12,000. Counting a loss in profit, a farmer who had to burn an acre of hemp could be out as much as $20,000.
The thought of inadvertently producing a crop that must be destroyed is worrisome enough. But that’s not the only issue of concern for hemp growers.
A budding industry
The 0.3% THC limit is based on a 1970s research paper, Bolt said, but it’s largely been used out of context and was never meant to guide regulation. Recent research has shown psychoactive effects of THC tend to kick in around 1%, but most recreational cannabis contains closer to 30%.
In 2019, Davidson was forced to burn 1.5 acres of his hemp crop.
In Indiana, a minimum requirement for acreage or square footage is expected to be established for those seeking a hemp license. Three types of licenses are believed to be available for marijuana growers to apply for: Handler, Grower and Research. The last of these three will likely disappear a year after the USDA approves SB 516’s rules, so only the former two will exist in Indiana.
According to the Indiana General Assembly, this committee is expected to dissolve on July 1, 2021. It also states that a maximum penalty of $2,500 can be assessed for a violation.
Should a licensee bring you on as an employee of his/her operation, you do not need your own license — unless you are sharing a portion of the profits.
The 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and President Trump to update standards and regulations on agriculture, conservation and nutrition.
Once the Department of Agriculture Secretary receives a letter to recognize this initiative under federal law, the USDA provides an answer within 60 days as to whether this program adheres to the Farm Bill’s latest regulations.
As it relates to Indiana, this bill dictates that anyone growing unlicensed hemp is considered a marijuana producer. Background checks, site recordings, fees and testing are all set to be carried out. Hemp is required to test below 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The state is expecting commercial hemp production to begin in 2020.
Under the latest version of the Farm Bill, regulations will be similar in each state but not identical. The same basic concept associated with laws regarding traffic, alcohol sales and other agricultural rules applies here.
Understand Cross-State Dealings
Governor Holcomb signed SB 516 on May 2, 2019 as another way to regulate hemp production in Indiana. The law outlines the process for obtaining a license, seed labeling, and defines terms like “handler,” “grower” and “agricultural hemp seed.” It also forms a Hemp Advisory Committee to help establish these “Administrative Rules.”
If you’re considering a marijuana grow operation, you should know production of marijuana remains illegal in the state of Indiana. However, certain officials are hoping to introduce legislation to decriminalize small amounts of the drug, particularly possession of cannabis for medical use.