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California Industrial Hemp Program

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Industrial hemp” or “Hemp” means an agricultural product, whether growing or not, that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds of the plant and all derivatives, extracts, the resin extracted from any part of the plant, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

Cannabis is defined in California Business and Professions Code (BPC) Section 26001(f). The BPC section 26001(f) definition explicitly states that cannabis does not include industrial hemp.

For information on the cultivation of medical and adult-use cannabis, contact CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Program.

Division 24 of the California Food and Agricultural Code provides for the cultivation of industrial hemp by registered growers, hemp breeders, and established agricultural research institutions.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) , effective January 1, 2019, removed hemp from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Thus, hemp is no longer federally regulated as a controlled substance.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) was signed into law by the President on December 20, 2018. The U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program was established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through an interim final rule on October 31, 2019. This rule provides the requirements for State and Tribal regulatory plans submitted to USDA for review and approval.

Additional information regarding pending federal legislation is available on the Law Library of Congress website.

CDFA has not yet submitted a proposed state regulatory plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for review and approval but is in the process of preparing a plan for submission.

CDFA will notify the public via our electronic mailing list of when California’s regulatory plan is submitted to USDA for review and approval. You can sign up to receive e-mail updates from CDFA regarding industrial hemp by visiting CDFA’s subscription webpage, or by sending a blank e-mail to: [email protected]a.gov.

According the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hemp webpage, hemp growers are not subject to the cultivation requirements outlined in the federal interim final rule if a state has an approved regulatory plan or is in the process of developing a regulatory plan. California is in the process of developing a state plan, and thus, California hemp growers are not currently subject to the federal interim rule. However, growers in states that do not have a pending or approved regulatory plan may apply for a USDA hemp production license. For information regarding federal requirements for hemp producers, visit USDA Hemp webpage.

Regardless of any federal requirements, all hemp growers in California must comply with existing state laws and regulations as well as any local restrictions that may apply.

Senate Bill (SB) 153 was approved by the Governor on October 12, 2019 and took effect on January 1, 2020 unless otherwise specified in the provisions.

Assembly Bill 228 proposes legislative changes related to industrial hemp products. Additional information regarding pending state legislation is available on the California Legislative Information website.

You can sign up to receive e-mail updates from CDFA regarding industrial hemp by visiting CDFA’s subscription webpage, or by sending a blank e-mail to: [email protected]

Exportation/Importation/Transportation of Industrial Hemp

California law does not currently have any restrictions specific to the importation of industrial hemp seeds/plants into California.

Industrial hemp seeds/plants imported into the state must meet all plant pest quarantines and may be subject to an agricultural inspection for plant pests. For more information regarding plant pest quarantines that may apply to industrial hemp seeds/plants, contact CDFA’s Pest Exclusion Branch.

The international importation of seeds and plants is restricted under federal law. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published requirements for the international importation of hemp seed. For information regarding the international importation of hemp seeds and/or plants, contact the USDA.

No. CDFA does not import or distribute seeds or planting materials for any crops, regardless of whether the imported materials are for research or commercial purposes.

California law does not currently have any restrictions specific to the importation of unprocessed hemp material into California. Unprocessed hemp material imported into the state must meet all plant pest quarantines and may be subject to an agricultural inspection for plant pests. For more information regarding plant pest quarantines that may apply to unprocessed hemp material, contact CDFA’s Pest Exclusion Branch.

Many processed hemp materials may move freely in accordance with federal law. For information on the restrictions and requirements that may apply to specific hemp products, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For information on federal and state export certificates, contact CDFA’s Pest Exclusion Branch.

California Food and Agricultural Code Section 81006(d)(11) requires registrants to provide an original copy of the laboratory test report to each person transporting hemp including hemp fiber, oil, cake, seed, or any component of the seed.

Additionally, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and law enforcement may have additional requirements that may apply to transporting hemp. For information regarding any additional requirements that may apply to any proposed industrial hemp transporation, contact the applicable city, county and/or state officials, including the California Highway Patrol and the DMV.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has published a bulletin to answer questions related to mailing hemp and hemp-related products through the USPS. For more information regarding mailing hemp and hemp-related products through the USPS, contact the USPS.

Cultivation

All growers and breeders of industrial hemp must register with the county agricultural commissioner prior to cultivation. Registration applications are available on CDFA’s Industrial Hemp Program webpage.

For information regarding any additional local restrictions that may apply to any proposed industrial hemp activities, contact the applicable county and/or city officials, including the county agricultural commissioner’s office.

There is no state registration to grow industrial hemp; only county registration is required to grow industrial hemp under state law. Registration applications are available on CDFA’s Industrial Hemp Program webpage.

CDFA has adopted Section 4900 in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to Industrial Hemp Cultivation Registration Fees.

The annual registration fee is $900.00 (nine hundred dollars). In accordance with California Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Section 81005(c), a county board of supervisors may also establish a fee to cover the actual costs of the commissioner and the county of implementing, administering, and enforcing the provisions of FAC Division 24. For information on local fees for industrial hemp cultivation, please contact the county agricultural commissioner’s office.

Registration is valid for one year from date of issuance. Registrants must renew their registration and should register prior to the registration expiration if they wish to continue to grow industrial hemp after the one year expires.

California Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Section 81003 provides for the registration of growers of industrial hemp. FAC Section 81004 provides for the registration of hemp breeders.

FAC Section 81004.5 provides for the registration of established research institutions for the cultivation of hemp for agricultural and academic research. However, registration for established agricultural research institutions, will only be required once a state regulatory plan is approved by USDA.

California Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Sections 81003 and 81004 require applicants to meet all eligibility requirements in order to register for industrial hemp cultivation.

FAC Section 81013 restricts any person convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance under state or federal law from registration for a period of 10 years following the date of the conviction.

FAC Section 81014 restricts any person that materially falsifies any information contained in an application or registration from registration.

FAC Section 81012 restricts any registered grower, hemp breeder, and established agricultural research institutions found committing three negligent violations in a five-year time period from registration for a period of five years beginning on the date of the finding of the third violation. However, FAC 81012 will not become operative until a state regulatory plan is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

CDFA has adopted Section 4900 in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to Industrial Hemp Cultivation Registration Fees, and Section 4920 and Section 4921 pertaining to the list of approved cultivars. The text of the adopted regulation can also be accessed through the CDFA’s Industrial Hemp Program webpage.

CDFA has adopted Sections 4940, 4941, 4942, 4943, 4944, 4945 , 4946, 4950, and 4950.1 in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to industrial hemp sampling and testing for THC content, harvest, and destruction through emergency rulemaking. The regulations took effect on June 10, 2019 and have been readopted on December 10, 2019 for an additional 90 days.

CDFA has proposed Sections 4935, 4940, 4941, 4942, 4943, 4944, 4945, 4946, 4950, and 4950.1 in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations to permanently adopt regulations pertaining to industrial hemp planting, sampling and testing for THC content, harvest, and destruction. The notice and revised text of the proposed regulation, and the initial statement of reasons can be accessed through the CDFA Industrial Hemp Regulation Activities webpage. The written comment period closed on December 2, 2019.

As CDFA develops a state regulatory plan to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, amendments to the current regulations and new regulations will be required.

Further regulations pertaining to cultivation will be developed with consideration of recommendations from the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board and promulgated through the regular rulemaking process in accordance with the California Administrative Procedure Act. CDFA will notify the public via our electronic mailing list as regulations are posted and available for public comment.

For more information regarding the regular rulemaking process, visit the Office of Administrative Law’s website.

For information regarding any additional local restrictions that may apply to any proposed industrial hemp activities, contact the applicable county and/or city officials, including the county agricultural commissioner’s office.

California law does not provide for cultivation of industrial hemp for personal use like the Adult Use of Marijuana Act provides for cannabis.

Section 81006(c) of the California Food and Agricultural Code prohibits industrial hemp cultivation on premises licensed by CDFA to cultivate or process cannabis.

“Premises” means the designated structure or structures and land specified in the application that is owned, leased, or otherwise held under the control of the applicant or licensee where the commercial cannabis activity will be or is conducted. The premises shall be a contiguous area and shall only be occupied by one licensee.

Licensing and regulation for the cultivation of medical and adult-use cannabis is overseen by CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing program. For more information regarding cultivating forms of cannabis other than industrial hemp, contact CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Program.

California Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Section 81002 requires registered growers and breeders, except for breeders developing a new seed cultivar and established agricultural research institutions, to only grow varieties of industrial hemp on the list of approved seed cultivars. The current list of approved cultivars is available in Section 4920 in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations and lists cultivars in FAC Section 81002(b).

Industrial Hemp Seed Certification Standards are available. For information on seed certification in California, contact the California Crop Improvement Association.

Other than practices and reporting mandated by Division 24 of the California Food and Agricultural Code, CDFA does not provide guidelines or recommendations for cultivating industrial hemp.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is responsible for providing statewide guidance on the use of pesticides in the cultivation of all agricultural crops, including industrial hemp. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently approved pesticides that can be used on industrial hemp. For information regarding pesticide use on industrial hemp, contact DPR or EPA.

The California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is authorized to regulate water discharges from agricultural operations, including irrigation runoff, flows from tile drains, and storm water runoff. For information regarding requirements on water discharges from agricultural operations, contact SWRCB’s Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program.

CDFA does not maintain a list of certified sellers of industrial hemp seed. For information on the certification of industrial hemp seed in California, contact the California Crop Improvement Association.

California Food and Agricultural Code Section 81006(e) requires registrants to obtain a laboratory test report indicating the percentage content of THC prior to harvest. CDFA has readopted Sections 4940, 4941, 4942, 4943, 4944, 4945, 4946, 4950, and 4950.1 in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations, which specify industrial hemp sampling and testing for THC content, harvest and destruction.

According to Section 4944(b)(11) in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations, the percentage content of THC is defined as:

a post-decarboxylation value or a calculated value using a conversion formula of delta-9-THC and eighty-seven and seven tenths (87.7) percent of THC-acid, on a dry weight basis.

California Food and Agricultural Code Section 81006(e) specifies THC content and crop destruction requirements of hemp crops. CDFA has readopted Sections 4940, 4941, 4942, 4943, 4944, 4945, 4946, 4950, and 4950.1 in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations, which specify industrial hemp sampling and testing for THC content, harvest, and destruction.

CDFA’s State Organic Program enforces the federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the California Organic Food and Farming Act of 2016. For information regarding labeling and/or selling industrial hemp as organic, contact CDFA’s State Organic Program.

Industrial Hemp Advisory Board

California Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Section 81001 establishes an Industrial Hemp Advisory Board to advise CDFA and make recommendations pertaining to the cultivation of industrial hemp, including industrial hemp seed law and regulations, annual budgets, and the setting of an assessment rate. FAC Section 81001 also outlines the membership and administration of the Board.

In accordance with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, a meeting notice for any board meetings will be posted on our meeting information webpage at least 10 days prior to the meeting, and, at the time of posting, the notice will also be sent out to interested parties via our electronic mailing list.

All meetings of the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board are open to the public. Meeting notices are posted on the meeting information webpage, and all interested parties are encouraged to attend and participate.

A current list of members of the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board, including terms of office, is available here:

There are currently 13 vacancies on the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board. The deadline to apply is March 15, 2020.
More information regarding the vacancies, including instructions on how to apply, is available on the CDFA press release.

Information on past meetings, including minutes and recordings, is available on the meeting information webpage.

Established Agricultural Research Institutions

Under California Food and Agricultural Code Section (FAC) 81000(a)(4):
“Established agricultural research institution” means any institution that is either:
(A) A public or private institution or organization that maintains land or facilities for agricultural research, including colleges, universities, agricultural research centers, and conservation research centers; or
(B) An institution of higher education (as defined in Section 1001 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001)) that grows, cultivates or manufactures industrial hemp for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research.

This definition remains operative until the date on which a state regulatory plan for California is approved and the definition is repealed on January 1 of the following year.

Once a state regulatory plan for California is approved, under FAC Section 81000(a)(4):
“Established agricultural research institution” means an institution of higher education, as defined in Section 101 of the federal Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1001,) that grows, cultivates, or manufactures industrial hemp for purposes of agricultural or academic research.

An established agricultural research institution, as defined in California Food and Agricultural Code Section 81000(a)(4), is currently exempt from registration and may currently grow industrial hemp in California. An established agricultural research institution that intends to grow hemp for purposes of sale rather than research must register with the county agricultural commissioner prior to cultivation.

FAC Section 81004.5 will require all established agricultural research institutions to register with the county agricultural commissioner prior to cultivation. However, FAC Section 81004.5 will not become operative until a state regulatory plan is approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

CDFA is currently drafting regulations to govern cultivation by established agricultural research institutions.

For information regarding any additional local restrictions that may apply to any proposed activities, contact the applicable county and/or city officials, including the county agricultural commissioner’s office.

Manufacturing, Processing, & Sale of Industrial Hemp & Hemp Products

California law does not currently provide any requirements for the manufacturing, processing, or selling of non-food industrial hemp or hemp products.

Assembly Bill 228 proposes to establish a regulatory framework for industrial hemp products to be used as a food, beverage, or cosmetic.

Additional information regarding pending state legislation is available on the California Legislative Information website.

California law does not currently provide for a permit or license for the manufacturing, processing, or selling of non-food industrial hemp or hemp products.

We recommend you contact your local public health official for more information on general rules and restrictions that may apply to any products you intend to manufacture or sell.

The California Farmers’ Market (CFM) Program provides opportunities for certified producers to directly market their agricultural products at certified farmers’ markets throughout the State. The CFM has published answers to frequently asked questions related to the sale of hemp at certified farmer’s markets. For information regarding selling products at certified farmers’ markets, contact CDFA’s CFM Program.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) is responsible for regulating commercial cannabis licenses for retailers, distributors, microbusinesses, testing laboratories, and temporary cannabis events. The BCC has published answers to frequently asked questions related to the sale of hemp products in licensed cannabis retail stores. For information regarding selling products in licensed cannabis retail stores, contact BCC.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) enforces laws pertaining to processed products marketed as organic. For more information regarding marketing products as organic, contact CDPH.

CDFA’s Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch (FFLDRS) is responsible for the enforcement of California state law and regulations pertinent to the manufacturing, distribution, labeling, and use of commercial livestock feed and livestock drugs. The FFLDRS has published a notice related to commercial feed or livestock drug products containing hemp-derived ingredients. For more information regarding commercial feed and livestock drugs, contact CDFA’s FFLDRS.

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