Hemp production has remained in limbo for some time now in Oregon. The state passed a law in 2009 that legalized the production of hemp at an industrial level, but the federal government still considers it a banned substance. For this reason, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) designed new regulations regarding hemp in a way that will reflect Oregon’s current law, which views it as a safe product, without going against any federal laws.
The federal government has declared that it will allow states to continue with a hemp industry as long as they implement thorough regulation and inspection processes. The main way the ODA has achieved this comes from permits and licenses to grow the crop. This set-up was agreed upon in order to create a system that provides enough money for inspecting, testing and generally regulating the product. The ODA set fees according to these needs while attempting to keep the fees low enough for investors in this new industry.
The ODA rules also establish the conditions under which production may take place and how products must be handled. Permits and licenses have already become available and many growers have said they will have time to prepare for a planting season in the spring of 2015. Licenses will cover the growth and handling of industrial hemp fiber. Those wishing to grow and handle the actual hemp seeds will require an additional permit and license.
The three-year permits cost $1,500 for organizations with more than 2.5 of conjoining agricultural land dedicated to hemp production. Growers also have to conform to regulations regarding the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. This will help ensure that all operations are genuinely geared toward the production of hemp fiber. The ODA has restricted the use of hemp seeds to the planting of new crops, as opposed to products like hemp oil, although some have questioned the reasons for this restriction.
Edgar Winters (photo above), of Eagle Point, Oregon was awarded the first permit to cultivate industrial hemp from seeds, but actually getting started requires jumping through hoops. Winters told Capital Press,
“We are in position to do 40 tons a day at our processing mill. We’ve got our ducks in a row.”
However, they are currently at a standstill while waiting for the ODA and Oregon State University to receive approval from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to import the seeds. They cannot begin anything until the green light is granted on the project.
Due to pre-existing federal laws, hemp seeds have not been allowed in the United States, including Oregon. The ODA has proceeded to investigate the possibility of importing seeds for agricultural hemp production. Several countries around the world already have legalized hemp seed and fiber industries and may be candidates for importers. All producers, whether dealing with fiber or seeds will have to submit to inspection and sampling by the ODA and follow the reporting and record keeping protocols outlined by the ODA.
photo credit: Mail Tribune