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 2021, the Department has issued 426 growing permits (includes 9 research permits) and 64 processing permits (includes 2 research permits). 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.)
Updates to PA Hemp Growing Requirements made by USDA’s Final Rule
Since the Department opened the 2021 application period with the publishing of the PA Hemp General Permit in December 2020, there have been some important changes brought about with the USDA’s official publishing of their Final Rule in January of 2021 [effective March 22, 2021]. The Department updated the PA Hemp General Permit Guidelines to incorporate changes made in the USDA's Final Rule. These are changes which will be beneficial for Pennsylvania’s hemp growers. These include:
- Increasing the 15-day harvest window to a 30-day harvest window.
- Allowing for remediation of non-compliant lots through flower removal from stalks or blending whole plants into biomass.
- Adjusting the definition of a negligent violation from occurring when a lot tests above 0.5% Total THC to occurring only when a lot test above 1% Total THC.
- Reducing the accrual of violations from one for every lot testing above the negligent level to only one violation per season for permit holders with lots above the 1% negligent level.
- Changing the size of the sample clippings from 2 inches of floral tip to 5-8 inches of floral bud.
- Delaying the enforcement of requirement to use DEA-registered labs for testing until January 1, 2022.
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.