It is legal to grow hemp in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Agriculture administers the state’s hemp program. Notably, Ohio was among the first set of plans approved by the USDA.
Getting Licensed to Grow Hemp in Ohio
It is legal for licensed hemp program participants to grow hemp in Ohio. License-holders must and have their growing sites approved by the state’s Department of Agriculture (ODA) before planting.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture provides three types of licenses; Cultivator license, Processing license, and research license for non-university research facilities.
To apply for a license, an individual or a business entity must create an OH|ID account. This account must bear the name and contact details of the individual applicant, lead researcher, or an individual authorized to sign on behalf of the business.
After creating the account, applicants may access the online application form through this link.
Additionally, all applicants must pass a background check. For businesses, that requirement only stands for individuals with a controlling interest. The ODA will only accept fingerprints submitted directly from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). Individuals with a felony involving a controlled substance within the last ten years are not eligible for licensing.
The applicant must also provide the Department with the address, map, and GPS coordinates for each growing field, building, greenhouse, or storage facility they intend to use. The application must indicate the outdoor acreage, indoor square footage, and the number of seeds or propagules they will plant.
Specifically, the Department defines each location as a single building or a contiguous land area where hemp is to be grown. The annual license fee for processing licenses varies from $250 to $3000 depending on the purpose.
The application window for all the licenses is open from November 1 to March 31 every year. The application fee for a cultivation license is $100, and the annual license fee is $500 per growing location.
Ohio Hemp Cultivation Guidelines
According to the state’s Department of Agriculture, a licensed cultivator can only grow hemp if the outdoor growing location is equal or more than a quarter acre.
Regarding indoor hemp operations, the growing location must be one thousand square feet or more. Moreover, each site must contain at least one thousand plants.
Growing locations must not be within one hundred feet of a residential structure, five hundred feet of a school or public park, or half of a mile from a licensed marijuana cultivator.
Notably, the licensee must own or lease the property for application approval.
Additionally, farmers must monitor unused fields for volunteer plants and destroy them for three years past the last reported date of planting. Failure to do this may result in enforcement action. Additionally, the Department may destroy the plants at the licensee’s costs.
Ohio state also requires hemp sampling and testing before sale. As such, license-holders may not move harvested material beyond the licensee’s storage facilities until ODA releases it in writing through the hemp release form.
Processing (other than drying, dehydrating, or packaging of hemp at the farm) requires a separate processing license. Notably, cultivators do not need a license to sell hemp or hemp products. However, no one may sell feminized seeds, cuttings, or propagules in Ohio without a cultivator license.
Mandatory Hemp Reporting and Records
Licensed hemp farmers must file the following reports:
- Planting Report: Licensees must submit a planting report to ODA by July 1 each year or within 15 days of planting or replanting. The form shall include the location of the growing site, acreage or square footage, variety, and intended use of the harvest. Licensees must file the outdoor planting report online. Refer to the indoor planting report instructions for more information.
- Production Report: Licensed cultivators must submit a complete production report to the Department by December 31 every year.
- Harvest Report/ Destruction Reports: Licensees must submit a harvest or destruction report to DOA at least 15 days to the harvest or destruction of the plants.
Furthermore, the ODA states that all licensees shall maintain all four reports for at least three years.
Sampling and Testing of Hemp in Ohio
All licensed hemp growing locations are subject to random sampling and inspection by the Department of Agriculture.
After receiving a harvest or destruction report, the Department will collect a sample before the harvest or destruction takes place. License-holders must complete the harvest within 15 days after the sample collection. However, if a timely harvest does not occur, the Department may order a secondary sample at extra cost.
If a sample exceeds the acceptable THC level of 0.3 percent, a licensee may request a second sample. Ultimately, the Department requires the destruction of all hemp crops represented by the non-compliant sample.
Obtaining Hemp Seeds in Ohio
After the Department issues a license, a grower may order feminized hemp seeds from domestic and international sources. ODA does not have prohibited hemp varieties for the 2020 growing season.
The Department encourages licensees to review prohibited variety lists from neighboring states. Note that it is the responsibility of the cultivators to ensure the varieties they purchase will produce 0.3 percent THC or lower on a dry-weight basis.