OKLAHOMA’S NEW INDUSTRIAL HEMP PROGRAM

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer

sarahleegossettparrish.com

Oklahoma Hemp History

The Oklahoma Legislature passed the Oklahoma Agricultural Industrial Hemp Pilot Program (OAIHPP) (“2018 Pilot Program”) in April 2018, and temporary rules to govern the program were adopted by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture in May 2018. The 2018 Pilot Program required that farmers establish a relationship with a university or college belonging to the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education that provided a plant science curriculum, before applying for a license to cultivate hemp. By law (and by definition), industrial hemp has less than 0.3% THC—the part of the cannabis plant that produces any euphoric effect.

Oklahoma Hemp 2019

In May, Governor Stitt signed into law the 2019 Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Program (“2019 Hemp Program” or “new program”), amending the 2018 pilot program to allow any authorized person to obtain a license for the purpose of growing and cultivating industrial hemp, removing restrictions on cultivation of industrial hemp and prior limitations that hemp must be grown for research and development.2 The 2019 Hemp Program also addresses the handling and processing of industrial hemp, provides for its interstate and intrastate shipment, and vests the Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture with the authority to prepare any necessary plans and reports required by the United States Department of Agriculture for approval of the program.

Pursuant to the 2019 Hemp Program, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture (“Department”) issues licenses to farmers that are valid for one year. All hemp plant material not harvested in the licensed period must be declared, for inclusion in a subsequent license. The Department is currently promulgating rules to implement the program, and align Oklahoma law with the 2018 federal Farm Bill.

While Oklahoma’s 2018 Pilot Program required the Department to establish a Certified Seed Program to identify seeds confirmed to produce industrial hemp and authorized the Department to import seeds, the new program eliminates the Certified Seed Program but still requires that licensees file reports at least thirty (30) days prior to harvest, reflecting intended crop disposition, harvest date, location, and yield within registered land areas. The new program continues the 2018 Pilot Program’s required inspections to verify the amount of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) concentration in cultivated hemp plants, adds a requirement for those with handling and processing licenses to be inspected annually, and requires Oklahoma hemp farmers to maintain all licensing and growing records for a minimum of three years.

License Suspension/Revocation/Criminal Penalties

Oklahoma’s 2019 Hemp Program allows the Department to revoke or suspend hemp growing, processing, and handling licenses for violation of any rules; fraud; refusal of inspections or to provide necessary information; providing false information; failure to submit required reports; and failure to pay fees. If a crop sample tests higher than the allowable 0.3% THC and less than a 1% concentration, the licensee is not subject to any penalty but must destroy the crop. The 2019 Hemp Program also protects licensees any criminal enforcement actions for negligent violations. However, three violations during any five-year period render an offending licensee ineligible to obtain another license for five years. Additionally, persons convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance under state or federal law, within the last ten years, are ineligible for a license.

What’s the Take-Away?

Oklahoma’s 2019 Hemp Program provides farmers the opportunity to cultivate an amazing plant grown by some of our early Presidents, a plant that boasts an incredible variety of uses, and is known to revitalize depleted soil with healthy nutrients. The future looks bright…and green, here in Oklahoma!

Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article.

The 2018 Farm Bill (“Farm Bill”), signed by President Trump in December 2018, legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp under federal law by repealing Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act within the 2014 Farm Bill, leaving states the option to regulate hemp, and creating a patchwork of state law. The 2018 Farm Bill also opened the door for the FDA to regulate hemp products, and it has wasted no time in doing so, already prohibiting CBD’s use in any food or beverage products.

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