Oregon Hemp: New Rules Advance the Ball

Oregon Hemp

A few months ago, we wrote that Oregon was busy revitalizing its dormant industrial hemp program. After the passage of emergency House Bill 4060, that program looked good. Things got even better this month, when the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) quietly adopted temporary administrative rules that fleshed out the new law and filled in some gaps. Those rules, which took immediate effect, are available here. If you would rather stick around, here are the highlights:

  • The minimum acreage requirement is gone. Prior to HB 4060, the rule was that hemp could be grown only in fields of 2.5 acres or greater. That seemed arbitrary and made it hard for farmers to start on a small plot and scale. We were glad to see ODA follow the legislature’s lead on this.
  • Indoor grow, including in greenhouses, is finally allowed. If you plan to grow hemp indoors, you must now simply submit “the approximately dimension or square feet of the building” in an application drawing.
  • Seeds, starts, clones and cuttings are all in play for farmers. Gone is the cumbersome rule that crops must be started from seed.
  • One registration may be used for multiple, noncontiguous fields or growing areas, although each such field will be considered a separate lot, and must be sampled and tested separately.
  • A separate registration and payment is required for persons seeking to grow ($500), handle ($500) and produce ($25) agricultural hemp seed. You can register for all three activities if you wish, and there are no residency requirements.
  • Anything over 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis is subject to seizure and embargo.

Notwithstanding that last item, ODA has taken a refreshingly light approach to regulating industrial hemp. While Oregon marijuana and hemp farmers have argued over cross-pollination issues historically, rules prohibiting hemp crops near medical marijuana grow sites do not exist. The rules for licensee record and site inspections are relaxed, and ODA itself will offer to test the crops while state labs undergo accreditation.

The hemp application process is short and sweet, and ODA is currently issuing licenses in under a month. As we push these licenses through on behalf of interested clients, ODA has been responsive and seems genuinely interested in promoting the success of hemp farmers. We expect that to continue going forward, and we will continue to post on any new developments in this sector.