Applications for 2021 hemp processing permits are being accepted throughout 2021. The application periods for 2021 growing permits and research permits have closed. Applications for 2022 growing and research permits are expected to reopen sometime in Fall 2021.
The last four years have seen hemp growing in Pennsylvania. Since the program's modest start in 2017, with the issuance of 14 hemp research permits issued and 36 acres grown under the authority of Pennsylvania's Industrial Hemp Research Act of Jul. 20, 2016, P.L. 822, No. 92 and legitimized by the 2014 Farm Bill, hemp has seen a major increase in the commonwealth.
In 2020, the Department issued 510 growing permits and, for the first time ever, issued 65 processing permits. For 2021, the Department is committed to continuing to foster the conditions for Pennsylvanians to grow a profitable, sustainable, and in-demand hemp product. Since the 2018 Farm Bill allowed hemp to be grown commercially and outside of a research pilot program, Pennsylvania’s USDA-approved Hemp Program now issues permits under the PA Hemp General Permit authorized by the Act relating to Controlled Plants and Noxious Weeds (3 Pa.C.S.A. section 1501 et seq.).
Notable Changes for the 2021 Hemp Program include:
- Modification of minimum planting requirements:
- Outdoor growers must plant a minimum of 150 plants. (Previously required to plant ¼ acres and 300 plants.)
- Indoor growers must plant a minimum of 1,000 square feet and 100 plants. (Previously required to plant 2,000 square feet and 200 plants.)
- The Department will issue research permits for institutions of higher education and research institutions. (For smaller scale research not resulting in commercial activity; details coming in January 2021.)
- Removed the requirement for signage at grow sites, although the Department still recommends signage as a best management practice.
- If the laboratory results for an officially sampled hemp lot are below the 0.3% Total THC compliance level, permittees can move the hemp crop upon receipt of the compliant Certificate of Analysis without need of a separate letter of clearance from PDA.
- Laboratories that do official hemp compliance testing for Pennsylvania must be approved by the Department.
The Pennsylvania Hemp Certified Sampling Agent Program
All hemp growing in Pennsylvania must be sampled and submitted to a laboratory for THC testing. The PA Department of Agriculture is looking for individuals interested in becoming certified to perform sampling.
To become a PA certified hemp sampling agent, you must:
- Review the Sampling Agent Training presentation found on this website;
- Review the Standards for Pennsylvania Certified Hemp Sampling Agents, the sampling protocol, and all associated forms;
- Receive a passing score on a test about the program (a link to the exam is included in the training presentation.
- If you pass the exam, you will receive an application form via e-mail. Submission and approval of that application are the final steps in the process to become a certified hemp sampling agent.
Contact information for approved Independent Hemp Sampling Agents is available in this online directory.*.
*Please note that this directory format is not mobile responsive, a desktop device is recommended for the best user experience.
If hemp growers need an official sample taken but are unable to secure the services of an approved independent sampling agent, they should contact the PA Department of Agriculture Hemp Program staff.
PA Hemp Permit Map and Database
An interactive PA Hemp Map is now available, showing the distribution of 2020 hemp permits throughout the commonwealth by County and by Zip Code along with contact information for the permits. This information is searchable by county, zip code, permit ID, permit contact name and institution/business name. (Please note that this application is not formatted for mobile devices.)
Location of Medical Marijuana Grower/Processors
Because permit holders may not plant within 3 mile of a Department of Health licensed Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor, permit applicants are advised to consult the following links to the address listings of Grower Processor locations.