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Hemp-CBD Across State Lines: Alabama

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) legalized hemp by removing the crop and its derivatives from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and by providing a detailed framework for the cultivation of hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill gives the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulatory authority over hemp cultivation at the federal level. In turn, states have the option to maintain primary regulatory authority over the crop cultivated within their borders by submitting a plan to the USDA.

This federal and state interplay has resulted in many legislative and regulatory changes at the state level. Indeed, most states have introduced (and adopted) bills that would authorize the commercial production of hemp within their borders. A smaller but growing number of states also regulate the sale of products derived from hemp. Our attorneys track these developments in real-time on behalf of multiple clients, and we provide a 50-state matrix showing how states regulate hemp and hemp products.

In light of the rapidly evolving legislative changes, we are also presenting a 50-state series analyzing how each jurisdiction treats hemp-derived cannabidiol (Hemp CBD). Today we turn to Alabama.

2014 Farm Bill Industrial Hemp Program. In 2016, Alabama enacted the Alabama Industrial Hemp research Program Act, (“Act”), which gave the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (“ADAI”) the authority over the production of industrial hemp and hemp products. In Alabama, industrial hemp is defined as “[a]ll parts and varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa, cultivated or possessed by a licensed grower, whether growing or not, that contain a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” The term “industrial hemp” excludes marijuana. “Hemp products” are “[a]ny and all products made from industrial hemp, including, but not limited to, cloth, cordage, fiber, food, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard, plastics, seed, seed meal and seed oil for consumption, and seed for cultivation if the seeds originate from industrial hemp varieties.” (Emphasis added).

ADAI rules do not explicitly address hemp processing or issue hemp processor licenses. Therefore, it is unclear whether a license or a permit is required to manufacture and sell Hemp-CBD products. The rules are also silent on the sale of Hemp-CBD products manufactured in Alabama or elsewhere.

However, shortly before the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, Alabama’s Attorney General issued a Public Notice stating that “CBD derived from industrial hemp, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis, can be legally produced, sold, and possessed in the State of Alabama.” Accordingly, there seems to be no direct limitation regarding the sale and possession of Hemp-CBD products in the state, so long as the products contain no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis.

2018 Farm Bill Plan. On May 30, 2019, state lawmakers passed SB 225, which tasked ADAI with developing a plan to monitor and regulate the commercial production of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill. ADAI will need to review and amend its existing rules, adopted pursuant to the Act , to comply with the requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill. In addition, ADAI will need to promulgate rules that account for the commercial sale of Hemp-CBD products. According to its FAQs, ADAI anticipates releasing these rules within a year.

Bottom Line. This may come as a shock due to Alabama’s general hostility towards cannabis in the past, but when it comes to policy, it is one of the most hemp-friendly states in the country. The state Attorney General has expressly allowed the production, sale and possession of Hemp-CBD products and under Alabama’s new legislation, the ADAI will oversee these commercial activities. The future looks bright for hemp in Alabama.

Nathalie Bougenies

Nathalie practices corporate law, intellectual property, and cannabis law, focusing on the regulatory framework of hemp-derived CBD products. She enjoys building a deep understanding of her clients’ businesses, industries, and long-term visions, and leverages her broad expertise and international background to help our overseas companies with their foreign direct investment…

Hemp-CBD Across State Lines: Alabama The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) legalized hemp by removing the crop and its derivatives from the definition of marijuana under the

Deadline Approaching for 2020 Hemp Licenses in Alabama

Cannabis Industry News Alert

Time is running out to apply for a license to grow or process hemp in Alabama in 2020, as the application window is only open from October 7 to November 14, 2019. Growing and processing of industrial hemp in Alabama is only legal for those who are approved as licensed growers, processors/handlers or universities under the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research and Pilot Program.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) launched the program in early 2019, after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which defines industrial hemp as parts of the hemp plant containing less than 0.3% THC, including derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids (including, for example, CBD). The program includes a process for issuing three types of hemp licenses on an annual basis: 1) grower; 2) processor/handler; and 3) university. All participants, even those licensed for 2019, must apply for and receive a license for 2020.

To apply for a hemp license under the program, applicants must submit a completed application to the ADAI for a license to grow, process or handle hemp, along with all required information, a criminal background check, and applicable fees. Criminal background checks, which are mandatory under the 2018 Farm Bill, can be requested from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Applicants should know that the $200 application fee is nonrefundable, and if approved for a license, an additional $1,000 fee will be due for each growing and processing/handling site. Business applicants must submit copies of their formation documentation as well.

Given the relatively short application window and the amount of information that needs to be submitted as part of a completed application, applicants should consider beginning the application process as soon as possible. This is especially true given the requirement that criminal background checks are required. Although ADAI will allow applicants who receive criminal background reports requested from ALEA in late October to submit those reports by November 25, 2019, applicants can reduce the risk that unexpected delays will cause their application to be submitted out of time by starting now.

ADAI has set up a helpful site to guide applicants through the process of completing and submitting an application. There is also a useful FAQ page with key information about the program and application process, including links to application forms and instructions, as well as information on how to request a criminal background check. Additional information about the program and related resources is available here.

Please contact a member of Bradley’s Cannabis Industry team if you need assistance obtaining a 2020 license to grow or process hemp in Alabama.

Deadline Approaching for 2020 Hemp Licenses in Alabama Cannabis Industry News Alert Time is running out to apply for a license to grow or process hemp in Alabama in 2020, as the application