In December 2018, Congress enacted the 2018 Farm Bill, which included provisions that federally legalize hemp in any state that has a regulatory plan meeting a number of conditions (or accedes to a federal plan to be developed by the US Department of Agriculture).

Prior to action by Congress, California voters approved Proposition 64 of 2016, which sanctions the cultivation of industrial hemp, and specifies certain procedures and requirements for cultivators.  Growers of industrial hemp and seed breeders must register with the county agricultural commissioner, and industrial hemp may only be grown as a densely planted fiber or oilseed crop, or both, in minimum acreages.

With the enactment of RCRC-supported Senate Bill 1409 (Wilk) in 2018, many state barriers to hemp cultivation were removed by updating the definition of hemp, increasing access to hemp seed, and making appropriate revisions to the administrative provisions of the regulatory scheme.  SB 1409streamlines the production of industrial hemp in California, and allows farmers the opportunity to diversify their farm operations.  While SB 1409 provided a certain amount of clarity for California’s burgeoning legal hemp industry, the state needs to enact a regulatory scheme that conforms with the 2018 Farm Bill.  RCRC is working with key state legislators in the construction of a modest, but important, regulatory structure for the hemp industry.  One of the key components for this state regulatory structure is local approval, consistent with the cannabis requirements found in Proposition 64.  The regulatory package must also include standards involving testing, labeling and safety for human use.

Staff: Paul A. Smith