Ohio to open hemp applications March 3

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(The ODA said it would release more details March 3. Check back for updates.)

* Updated March 2, 4:10 p.m.

* Updated March 3, 12:10 p.m.

SALEM, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced that it will begin accepting applications for hemp cultivating and processing licenses March 3 at noon. Those interested will be able to apply at www.agri.ohio.gov then. The online application will include a mapping tool to allow farmers to indicate where they plan to grow hemp.

At this point, there does not appear to be an option for applying off-line.

The response time will depend on how complete the application is, the number of applications received and how quickly the background check is completed and returned. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. There is no cap on the number of licenses the ODA will give out this year.

The deadline to apply for cultivation licenses has been extended to May 1 for this year. Licenses are good for three years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also announced Feb. 27 that it will delay enforcing some rules of its hemp program until Oct. 31, 2021, or until the final rule is published. The USDA’s interim final rule for the program requires labs that test hemp plants for compliance to be registered by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

For now, however, the USDA is allowing labs that are not registered with the DEA yet to conduct testing, as long as they meet the other requirements the rules list.

The USDA has also identified other options for disposing of hemp plants that test hot with over 0.3% THC. These options include plowing under non-compliant plants or composting them into “green manure” to use on the same land. The new methods are meant to allow farmers to use common on-farm practices to destroy non-compliant crops.

States, tribes and state departments of agriculture are responsible for developing procedures to make sure non-compliant hemp is handled in compliance with state, tribal and federal laws. The USDA has a list of allowed disposal methods and descriptions at www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/hemp.

Processors may need to have their processing site inspected to complete the application. The ODA is expecting this to take a few weeks.

All applicants and key participants must have a background check done before they apply. Key participants are sole proprietors, partners in partnerships or executive managers in corporations. This does not include non-executive managers like farm, field or shift managers.

Background checks are already available. To get a background check, visit one of Ohio’s WebCheck locations, listed at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Business/Services-for-Business/WebCheck/Webcheck-Community-Listing. People seeking background checks will need to provide the address of the ODA’s hemp program. That address is Ohio Department of Agriculture, Hemp Program, 8995 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.

For more information, contact the ODA’s hemp program at 614-728-2101 or hemp@agri.ohio.gov.

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