Frequently Asked Questions
following information is provided as a guide and is not a legal interpretation
of the Act.
Q: What is
A: Industrial hemp is a versatile
plant that has been used for thousands of years as a source of fiber and food.
While grown commercially in the United States until after World War II,
industrial hemp became regulated along with marijuana and its cultivation was
Q: What is
the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana?
A: Industrial hemp and marijuana are
different varieties of the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa. Marijuana
is cultivated because of its production of the psychoactive plant chemical
delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC Industrial hemp is cultivated for fiber,
seed and other purposes, and federal and state law requires that the concentration
of THC must be less than 0.3% in industrial hemp.
Q: Why is
Pennsylvania allowing growth of industrial hemp now?
A: In section 7606
of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill), the federal government opened the
door to limited legal growth of industrial hemp as part of agricultural
research pilot programs. The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed an Industrial
Hemp research law, (3 Pa.C.S.A 701-710) (Act 92) to explore the potential for
economic growth that this “new” crop could bring to the commonwealth.
Q: What is the difference between the hemp program and medical marijuana
A: The two programs are separate and authorized
by different Acts and Departments. Industrial hemp contains virtually no THC
(less than 0.3%). Both plants do contain levels of other compounds of interest,
for example cannabidiols (CBDs). The Medical Marijuana Act requires all the cannabis
for medical use to be grown at a permitted growing/processing facility and the
products to be tested before being sold in order to meet specific requirements
for purity and standardized chemical concentrations. No marketing research may
involve the sale or distribution of any CBD-containing substances to a PA-permitted
medical marijuana grower/processor or a PA-permitted medical marijuana dispensary.
What are some of the uses of industrial hemp?
are reportedly more than 25,000 uses for industrial hemp. Part of the need for
pilot programs is to determine what the most appropriate uses are for Pennsylvania
in terms of growth, production and marketing.
Q: Who can
legally grow hemp in Pennsylvania?
A: Industrial hemp may be grown or
cultivated in Pennsylvania for research conducted under an agricultural pilot
program established by PDA. Research
permits can be obtained by institutions of higher education or by persons
contracting directly with PDA. In 2018, industrial hemp may not be grown in PA
for general commercial activity, only as part of a research project.
Q: Has hemp
been planted in Pennsylvania?
the 2017 season, 14 permit holders planted and grew slightly more than 36 acres
of Industrial hemp. This was the first planting
of hemp in the commonwealth in approximately 80 years. PDA will accept
additional applications for the 2018 growing season. PDA has received federal
approval to facilitate importation of hemp seeds from other countries for
approved research projects.
Q: How can I
apply to grow hemp in Pennsylvania?
A: Interested researchers should
carefully review the parameters for permit approval and fill out the 2018
Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program permit application. The deadline for application submission is
January 19, 2018.
there be fees for the participants of the project?
A: Yes. No funds have been allocated
to PDA to support research projects, so participants will be responsible for
funding all research project expenses. PDA has established fees to cover the
costs of administering the program, including obtaining a permit, covering onsite
research field and facility inspections, sampling and necessary laboratory
testing of the crop as required by the permit. Additionally, other agencies may
charge fees for their services (FBI criminal history background checks, the
cost of other required permits from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Customs
& Border Patrol, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
Q: Is the application fee refundable?
A: No. The law enabling industrial hemp research in
Pennsylvania gave the Department of Agriculture the right to establish fees to
cover the costs of administering the program.
The use of these “user fees” is restricted to covering the costs
incurred by the agency to administer the program.
How many research projects will be approved for 2018?
maximum of 50 projects will be selected for the 2018 growing season. PDA will
select the successful projects based on a complete program application and a
determination of the merit of the research described.
How many acres will be approved for each project?
who contract directly with PDA to conduct their research projects will be permitted
a maximum research plot of 100 acres in size, or smaller plots with a combined
area not to exceed 100 acres. Growers
also may contract with an institution of higher education to grow hemp in any
amount needed as part of their PDA permitted research project.
Q. I had a permit to conduct research in
2017. Do I need to renew my permit?
A. Yes. Last year’s growers
will need to complete the renewal application and pay the appropriate
fees. Renewals only apply to the
continuation of an existing project from 2017. If the focus of the project is
different from the approved 2017 permit, a new application and fees are required.
How can a participant obtain industrial hemp seed?
seed may be obtained from other countries under a DEA import registration and
permit. PDA has been granted a general DEA import registration, and an
institution of higher education may also qualify and obtain an independent DEA
Registration. Persons who have received an Industrial Hemp Research Pilot
Program Permit from PDA would then work to purchase seed from their seed
supplier for import under DEA Permits linked to the PDA import registration. No
seeds will be permitted to be purchased or acquired from a PA-permitted medical
marijuana grower/processor or a PA-permitted medical marijuana dispensary.
Q: Can I sell the hemp from my project?
Outside of the Commonwealth?
A: Products produced from hemp grown in Pennsylvania may be sold as
part of approved marketing research. In their permit applications, program participants
must describe what will happen to the plants and seeds at harvest. PDA will issue permits to move plant material
or seeds for processing within the commonwealth. Due to federal regulations, raw or unprocessed hemp plants or plant parts are not permitted to move across
state lines. Once
processed, most materials can move freely within and outside of the
products or substances distributed or sold must meet all state and federal
laws, and regulations that are applicable to the commodity.
What products/uses of industrial hemp will be permitted in PA?
hemp products are regulated by several different federal and state mandates,
which can be confusing. It is the responsibility of the research participant to
ensure any products or substances derived from industrial hemp research
projects meet the requirements of all state and federal laws and
Can Industrial hemp be sold/commercially distributed as animal feed?
Not at this time.
Before any ingredient can be sold or distributed as part of animal
feed, the ingredient must be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by FDA and/or
listed as a “recognized feed ingredient” by the American Association of Feed
Control Officials (AAFCO). As part of
the approval process, testing is currently being conducted to ensure the safety
and nutritional value of hemp. Growers are
advised that any research project that involves feeding hemp products to their
own animals may result in regulatory restrictions in the sale of products (meat,
milk, eggs, etc.) from these animals.
What about cannabinoids, like CBD?
such as cannabidiol (CBD), are a group of chemicals concentrated in the female
flower of the cannabis plant. While they are chemically similar to THC, they do
not have the psychoactive effects of THC. In a change from 2017 pilot program, PDA will
permit research on industrial hemp growth, cultivation, and marketing relevant
to extraction or production of CBD compounds or substances that contain them. However, it will be the permit holder’s
responsibility to ensure that any CBD extraction or the production of
CBD-containing substances complies with all laws and regulations, including any
distribution to be conducted as part of marketing research.
What happens if the industrial hemp grown tests higher than the 0.3 % permitted
for THC content?
definition, the plants are no longer industrial hemp. Crop destruction and possibly criminal
sanctions could result.
This program seems very different from what I see happening in other states –
why is that?
Pennsylvania General Assembly based the Industrial Hemp Law, Act 92, on what
the 2014 Farm Bill permitted, which allows industrial hemp to be grown as part
of an agricultural research pilot program. As the regulatory agency charged
with enacting this law, PDA is committed to adhering to the guidance of the
Pennsylvania General Assembly and the federal government. Other states have
enacted industrial hemp laws quite different from Pennsylvania’s law. PDA may
revise the program parameters in future years to reflect changes in either
federal or state laws, statutes, regulatory climate or scientific advances.
Q: Can seed grown be saved and replanted?
A: To save seed for
replanting, growers would need to obtain written permission from the seed
company and from PDA. In addition, the seed must be grown in conditions that meet
the requirements of the Pennsylvania Seed Act. If PDA approves a grower’s
proposal to test the marketability of seed grown in the commonwealth, the
resulting industrial hemp seeds would be evaluated based on these requirements
and could only be distributed by permit to an approved research project.
Q: What does Industrial hemp need to
A: The 2017 research projects showed that good soil fertility - with
adequate nitrogen, proper planting depth, and pre-plant weed control - is
important for a good crop. Growers also need to evaluate available harvesting
options, because many combines are not designed for use with this crop, which
is well known for its strong fiber and stalks.
What information will PDA share about the research projects?
to do research under Pennsylvania’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program will
specify research reporting requirements. Those research reports will be filed
with PDA, and PDA will share summaries of research findings as appropriate.
Q: If approved to receive a research permit,
what are my responsibilities to the PDA?
A: Persons or institutions receiving
permits to grow Industrial hemp must follow the requirements of Act 92, as well
as terms of the permit/contract issued by PDA.
This includes payment of fees, reporting, documentation of the research
with a final report and cooperation with onsite inspections.
How do I get more information?
A: More information on the
Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program is available on the Industrial Hemp page, where more specific details are
spelled out in the 2018 Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program parameters. If you would like to register to receive emails regarding the PA Industrial Hemp Industry. Please contact Sarah Pickel for additional information.
IPM Education Specialist