Did you know the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently approved Oregon’s hemp regulatory structure? Although Oregon had already been regulating its own hemp market, in January of 2022, hemp production must comply with federal regulations. Fortunately, just last month, the USDA approved Oregon’s regulatory plan pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill. Any current or future Oregonian hemp grower or handler should take a moment to review the rules.

A quick overview of hemp and its legalization in the United States

Cannabis is made for many purposes, some of which are purely industrial and not intended to create an intoxicating effect when consumed or inhaled. Colloquially, and even legally, we use the word “hemp” to differentiate industrial cannabis from recreational cannabis designed for intoxication or medicinal use. “Hemp” has always been difficult to define, given that its distinction from other cannabis plants is more legal than botanical. Oregon was one of the few states that has had a legal hemp market for several years, but its legal status at the national level had been murky at best. Finally, in 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, removing hemp as a scheduled substance from the Controlled Substances Act and legalizing hemp nationwide.  

Under Oregon law, hemp is all non-seed components of the cannabis plant that contains an average total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that does not exceed 0.3 percent weight while in a dry form. (OAR 603-048-0010). To some, this definition is more restrictive than the federal definition, which simply outlaws delta-9 THC. Because total THC will always be higher than delta-9 THC, Oregon hemp farmers should beware of the total THC concentration in their harvests.

History of hemp regulation in Oregon 

Oregon legalized the production, possession, and commerce of hemp in 2010. In 2015, the Oregon Department of Agriculture began administering the hemp program. What began as a few short rules became a robust hemp regulatory program intended to support the hemp production industry within the state.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture created its hemp program to grow another sought-after Oregonian crop in compliance with state law. While the USDA crafted rules regarding hemp regulation, it required each state to submit its plans regarding statewide hemp regulation, subject to specific requirements in the 2018 Farm Bill. 

Oregon submitted its plan about a year ago, but the USDA hadn’t approved it until now. With the newly approved plan, Oregon can regulate its own hemp market (as it had been doing before), but finally with the USDA’s blessing, and subject to Section 10113 of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

What does approval by the USDA mean for hemp production in Oregon?

The USDA’s approval means the Oregon Department of Agriculture will continue as the primary regulator of hemp production and handling statewide, and also authorizing interstate transfers of hemp and hemp products.

The full, approved plan can be found here:

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Oregon_state_hemp_plan.pdf.

With this approval comes new federal rules that began on January 1, 2022.

What are the new rules for hemp production in Oregon?

Federal hemp regulations required certain changes to the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s hemp program:

  • Upon application, hemp growers must consent to a criminal history check by fingerprint, as well as other information required by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. (OAR 603-048-0200). The only convictions that will be considered by the Department are felonies relating to a controlled substance within the prior ten years of the application. (OAR 603-048-0205). An expunged criminal conviction will not be considered by the Department. (OAR 603-048-0010). Note: renewals must also submit a criminal records check if such persons have not done so within the last two years. (OAR 603-048-0200 (7)(B)). 
  • Growers must report hemp crop acreage to the FSA within 30 days. (7 CFR § 990.23).
  • Growers have 30 days to collect samples before harvest. 
  • All growers must report their hemp crop acreage to the USDA Farm Service Agency, including street address, acreage, and Department grower license number. 
  • Hemp growers and handlers should review the new Oregon Department of Agriculture rules for a complete list of requirements.

An overview of what the approval by the USDA means can be found here:

https://odanews.wpengine.com/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery. 

If you need assistance starting, renewing, or simply continuing a hemp production or handling operations in Oregon, please reach out to Navigate Law Group. We’re here to help.

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Disclaimer

Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue, you should consult an attorney.