Information about hemp production in Michigan.

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Industrial Hemp Production in Michigan

May 24, 2019

A comprehensive look at hemp production in Michigan including history & regulation, users & markets and the agronomic elements of industrial production.

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Hemp (also known as industrial hemp) is one of the largest new opportunities for growers in Michigan due to its recent legalization by the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. Hemp is Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) that has less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive component. Hemp is cultivated to produce fiber, grain, biomass or non-intoxicating medicinal compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can industrial hemp be grown in Michigan?

Yes, on a limited basis for the 2019 growing season. Industrial hemp can be grown for two very specific purposes: research and testing. Growers must apply through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). Applications and legal requirements are available on MDARD’s Industrial Hemp in Michigan website.

What are the legal requirements for commercial production of industrial hemp in Michigan?

The 2018 Farm Bill states that a farm will have to provide a legal description of the field(s) in which hemp will be grown. Furthermore, these records must be kept on file for 3 years after the crop is grown. Hemp will also need to be tested for THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) through an approved lab before marketing. THC levels can be no more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

However, before industrial hemp can be grown commercially, the USDA will develop the rulemaking process, which will give each state the authority to regulate the production of hemp within their state. Then MDARD must submit a state plan that will be reviewed and commented on by USDA. Once the state has received approval by USDA, they can enroll farmers to grow industrial hemp. Details on Michigan’s regulatory process will be available on MDARD’s Industrial Hemp in Michigan website.

What is the current status of the hemp program in Michigan?

The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill authorized colleges and universities, and state departments of agriculture to grow, cultivate, and market hemp as part of an Ag Pilot Program. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) implemented the state’s first Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program in April 2019. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their interim regulations on October 29, 2019 to provide guidance to state departments of agriculture for developing their state-specific hemp plans. Michigan has up to one year to continue its pilot programs and update rules and regulations to be consistent with federal regulations.

When will the Federal rules surrounding hemp be finalized?

The USDA interim rules were released in October 2019 in order to accommodate the 2020 growing season. As the rules are finalized, states continue to operate under the authority of the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill. MDARD is still currently planning for a 2020 hemp ag pilot program continuation.

Once finalized, what may be included in the Federal rules on hemp?

The USDA rules on hemp likely will contain:

  • Documentation of where hemp is being grown
  • Standards for testing to ensure compliance
  • Effective disposal of plants and products
  • Compliance with law enforcement
  • Annual inspection requirements
  • Certification that resources are available to carry out the plan

What are the next steps once the federal rules are implemented?

Once the federal hemp regulations are implemented, then Michigan’s Public Act 641 of 2018 will need to be updated to include any federal change and a state plan will need to be developed. The state hemp plan must be approved by the USDA, which has 60 days to approve.

Where can I find the legal requirements for growing, processing, and handling hemp in Michigan?

Michigan’s Public Act 641 of 2018 authorizes the growing and cultivating of hemp and requires the registration and licensing of certain persons who are interested in growing, processing, and handling hemp.

What are the highlights of Public Act 641?

  • Prohibits a person from growing hemp in Michigan unless registered as a grower.
  • Requires growers to identify all growing locations on their grower application.
  • Prohibits a person from processing, handling, brokering or marketing hemp unless licensed as a processor-handler.
  • Requires signage to be placed at the boundaries of each growing area.
  • Requires growers to have their crops tested for THC content prior to harvest.
  • Requires that individuals to be able to show proof of registration and licensing upon request by law enforcement.

How does a grower or processor-handler get a license for hemp from MDARD?

Licenses to grow or process hemp in Michigan are available at any time. Those interested can download and complete the “Hemp Grower Registration Application” and the “Hemp Processor-Handler Application” on Michigan’s  Hemp website. The cost for the grower license is $100 and the processor-handler license is $1,350. MDARD is currently issuing licenses for the 2020 Hemp Ag Pilot program as licenses expire annually on November 30.

Is there a limit on the number of licenses for hemp issued from MDARD?

No, there is no limit on the number of licenses issued or the number of acres grown in Michigan.

What is involved in getting a hemp license in Michigan?

Receiving a hemp license in Michigan has two steps:

  1. First, growers must register for a grower registration and those interested in processing hemp will apply for a processor-handler license and submit their payment.
  2. Applicants must complete the 2020 Ag-Pilot Program application. In doing so, applicants must enter into a research agreement with MDARD. Participation in the pilot program also requires a successful background check.

What is the reason for the background check to be part of the Hemp Ag Pilot Program?

Participation in the Hemp Ag Pilot Program requires licensees to be free of drug-related felony charges in the 10 years prior to their submission of their application.

When do the hemp grower or processor-handler licenses expire?

All State of Michigan hemp licenses expire November 30 of each year. License renewal packets are sent out 60 days prior to the expiration of their license.

All hemp must test below the 0.3% THC in order to still be compliant with the rules of hemp. Does Michigan have a state laboratory for THC testing for growers to submit samples?

As of October 2019, MDARD’s Geagley Laboratory in East Lansing is testing THC content for growers in the state of Michigan. MDARD anticipates there will be additional labs available for testing services; however, information will become available in spring 2020.

What happens if my hemp tests higher than the 0.3% THC?

Public Act 641 allows testing to be completed two additional times. If a third test indicates a THC concentration greater than 0.3%, MDARD shall order the crop destroyed.

All growing areas with hemp must be labeled with signs. What is required on hemp signs?

Signage must state the following:

  • Statement indicating: “hemp registered with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development”
  • Grower name
  • Grower registration number

Does Michigan have a list of hemp seed suppliers?

No, at this time, Michigan does not have a list of seed suppliers for hemp. Also, Michigan does not have certified seed sources as in other states where both marijuana and hemp have been legalized for a longer period of time. University of Wisconsin Extension compiled a list of seed sources in February 2019.

In the meantime, growers are encouraged to be vigilant in their seed source selection. Growers should seek a certificate of analysis from potential suppliers prior to purchase. The certificate of analysis should include information such as guaranteed germination rate and THC concentration.

How can I receive updates on MDARD’s Hemp Program?

All licensees of the current hemp program are automatically subscribed to e-mail alerts with updated information. Other interested individuals can self-subscribe to the updates by visiting the MDARD Industrial hemp website.

Does Michigan have regulations regarding container media or root disposal for hemp?

Currently, Michigan does not have any requirements for the disposal of container media or roots of hemp.

In Michigan, is it legal to produce hemp and marihuana (i.e., marijuana) in the same facility?

Public Act 641 does not address growing hemp and marijuana at the same facility. However, growers interested in doing so should evaluate regulations from Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), Marihuana Regulatory Agency (MRA).  

Is there a list of growers, processors, or handlers available to the public in Michigan?

No. Grower and processor-handler information is exempt from disclosure under PA 641 of 2018 and MDARD is prohibited from disclosing it. MDARD encourages licensees to network at local events or get involved in associations.

How will those interested learn about the results from the 2019 Hemp Ag Pilot Program?

All licensees are required to submit a final report of their hemp activities from 2019. Information that will be sought will include questions such as: acres actually planted, varieties planted, or pest problems. Once aggregated, information will be shared on MDARD’s hemp website.

Where can those interested for information on how to grow hemp?

Those who are interested in growing hemp can check out the MSU Hemp website. There are news updates, MSU Extension bulletins, recorded webinars from previous MSU Extension programming on  hemp, and forms.

If I have regulatory or licensing questions, who should I contact?

Growers or processors-handlers can look on MDARD’s  Hemp website and then sign up for updates using the button, “Sign up for  Hemp Updates.” Any further questions can be sent to MDARD-hemp@michigan.gov

Where can I get information on growing industrial hemp in Michigan?

Michigan State University published Industrial Hemp Production in Michigan, E3402This is available at https://canr.msu.edu/hemp

How can I source seed with low THC for hemp?

While there may be seed available in the United States, the U.S. has not set standards for seed certification. Canada has been growing industrial hemp since 1998, and only varieties of industrial hemp that are named in the List of Approved Cultivars (https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/producing-selling-hemp/commercial-licence/list-approved-cultivars-cannabis-sativa.html), published by Health Canada, are approved for planting. These varieties are known to produce plants containing less than 0.3 percent THC under normal conditions. For more information on seed selection, see MSU Extension bulletin Industrial Hemp Production in Michigan (E3402).

Is hemp profitable to grow in Michigan?

Due to lack of agronomic information and markets that are not well established, we do not know if industrial hemp will be profitable in Michigan. We do know that there are many uses for industrial hemp including fiber, grain, oils, pharmaceutical products and more. It is reported that industrial hemp can have over 25,000 uses. As opportunities become available, growers should have a contract in place with a reputable buyer of industrial hemp product(s) before planting. For more information on markets, see MSU Extension bulletin Industrial Hemp Production in Michigan (E3402).

How do I grow industrial hemp in Michigan?

Industrial hemp is an untested crop in Michigan. Local research conducted in 2019 will provide some region-specific data on cultural requirements. In the meantime, MSU has published a bulletin compiling the best information available. For now, Michigan farmers interested in learning about the production can review information from Ontario. This is the most relevant resource related to soils, climate, varieties and management practices due to proximity and latitude similarity. A fact sheet on growing industrial hemp is available at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. For more information on seed selection, see MSU Extension bulletin Industrial Hemp Production in Michigan (E3402).

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