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is hemp flower legal in pennsylvania

Is Hemp Flower Legal In Pennsylvania?

Since the state has a robust Hemp Program and approves the use of hemp-derived CBD products, that makes hemp flower legal too. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about the history of hemp, Pennsylvania’s CBD laws, and some of the must-know points about buying and smoking hemp flower .

Pennsylvania hemp laws

A few years after the 2014 Farm Bill went into effect, the Governor of Pennsylvania signed House Bill 987 on July 20, 2016. The federal Farm Bill allowed universities, colleges, and agencies, like the state Department of Agriculture, to grow hemp for research purposes. This was a huge deal because it was illegal for more than seven decades to grow industrial hemp in the United States.

Some of the states in the U.S. took immediate advantage of this opportunity, while some haven’t planted a single seed in their state. But, this article is about Pennsylvania, so let’s stick to them for now. A few months after passing H.B. 987, the state issued 14 permits to universities and agencies so they could research the hemp plant.

The research included finding out the ideal growing conditions, best soil type, potential pest and disease issues, time from seed to harvest, and much more. In essence, the goal was to see how the plant would fare in U.S. agriculture. And not only as a cash crop but as a health and wellness product. The area of interest here was CBD, which the hemp flower produces a lot of.

After a few years of researching the plant in 2017 and 2018, an updated and more comprehensive Farm Bill became law at the end of 2018. This Bill, referred to as the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, opened the floodgates, sorta speak, for farmers and businesses around the country.

This Bill has two powerful pieces of legislation. First, it removed hemp from the definition of marijuana. Which meant, hemp was no longer classified as an illegal drug under federal law. Second, the Bill made commercial farming of industrial hemp possible for any state interested.

So, starting in 2019 the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) created an application process for those who wanted to grow hemp. Each person would need a permit to legally grow in the state. Let’s take a look at some of the most up to date requirements to apply and qualify for grower and processor permits.

Application process & requirements

To apply for a hemp growers and processors permit, each person must complete an application and pay $150. Also, anyone who wants to sell hemp seeds or plants requires a special license. And finally, those planning to make hemp-based food products must register with the PDAs Bureau of Food Safety.

To give you an idea of the requirements to grow and process hemp in the state of Pennsylvania, here are some of the most pertinent details.

  • Individuals or businesses that want to apply must either own or lease the land or commercial space to grow and process.
  • Those growing outdoors must plant on a minimum of 0.25 acres with 300 or more plants.
  • Those growing indoors must have a minimum space of 2,000 square feet with 200 or more plants.
  • These indoor spaces and outdoor fields cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school (K-12) or a public recreation area.
  • All key participants in the business of growing or processing hemp must pass an FBI background check.
  • The applicant must list the hemp varieties he or she wants to grow, and ultimately get approved by the PDA.
  • THC testing must occur within 15 days of the harvest date. If the THC levels exceed 0.3%, the crops may get destroyed.

These are some of the main rules for applying, but the full application will include every single detail and requirement.

Pennsylvania state CBD laws

We covered the laws about hemp legalities in the state, but how does that relate to the CBD laws? This question is important because hemp and CBD are connected, but have some subtleties. For instance, hemp seeds and hemp fiber, which comes from the stalks, don’t contain cannabidiol. However, the flower buds and small sugar leaves around the bud, do.

Some farmers may decide to grow the plants for industrial use to make clothes, paper, plastics, ropes, fuel, or tons of other uses. Yes, the hemp plant is that versatile in its uses. There are thousands of uses for hemp , in fact. Others may choose to process the hemp seeds into protein powder, or hemp seed oil, or another type of wellness product.

Then there are those processors who want to make hemp-based CBD products. In this case, the rules get a little more strict. For one, before any hemp flower in Pennsylvania gets harvested, the crops must have their THC levels tested. This means, before the hemp reaches the hands of the processors, the state wants to ensure the THC content is less than 0.3%.

This is a requirement under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 and under the Pennsylvania Hemp Program. To add an extra layer of assurance, most CBD companies provide lab testing reports (i.e. COAs) to prove the THC levels in their organic CBD nugs, tinctures, edibles, capsules, etc. have less than the legal limit of tetrahydrocannabinol.

Making sure the CBD product meets these laws is vital and necessary before being legally sold. And the state does a good job of this.

Is CBD flower legal in Pennsylvania?

Yes, you can buy CBD flower in Pennsylvania. It’s legal to do so when the flower strain you select has THC levels that are compliant with federal and state laws. Although hemp flower buds are legal to buy and consume, there are laws about smoking in public.

You cannot smoke CBD buds in a public area or near a school. In other words, your only choice is to smoke in a private space where you feel comfortable, whether that’s at home or at a friend’s house.

It might take some time before law enforcement and the state government get more creative with this law. For now, the hemp plant resembles marijuana too much, which is still illegal at the federal level and illegal for recreational use in Pennsylvania.

Although medical use is legal under the Medical Marijuana Act, the law for medical consumers is the same as hemp consumers — no smoking in public.

For some of you, this may not matter. You might prefer to infuse your premium hemp flower buds in oil so you can add it to your tea, in baking recipes, or homemade topical creams. No matter what you choose, there are some great strains to try out.

What are the best CBD strains to buy?

With the rise in CBD popularity, comes more specialty hemp strains. A strain is like a unique identifier. It will have a specific set of genetics (i.e. a cross of two or more existing CBD strains), a terpene profile that gives it a yummy aroma and taste, certain appearance, and set of effects.

The effects might not vary a whole lot from strain to strain, but the CBD percentage will and the types of terpenes and amount of each one will. These two factors play a role in how strong the effects will be.

If your biggest priority when choosing an artisan hemp flower strain is the smell and flavor, then you might like Hawaiian Haze or Sour Space Candy . They have tropical, sweet, and tangy flavors that you can taste and smell when smoking a joint. Even opening the jar or bag these strains come in can frill the air with the most divine aroma. An aroma that makes you smile and your heart jump for joy.

For those looking for a high potency strain, you may want to consider options like Lifter CBD and Special Sauce that have 17.5% to 19% CBD.

There are lots of other good flower choices out there, and many other types of smokable CBD products like CBD moonrocks, so be sure to do your research to find the perfect strain to satisfy your preferences.

In Summary

Pennsylvania is a state that views industrial hemp as an economic asset. It has many uses, can generate several harvests during the year, and bring in revenue for the state. It’s a win win all the way around. And for consumers, the ability to buy CBD flower in a legal way is a huge benefit and perk to being a resident.

So, go out ahead and take a look at the great selection of CBD flower at you local store or online. The perfect CBD hemp strain is waiting for you!

Looking for hemp flower in Pennsylvania to start out on your CBD journey? Find out what the laws are in this state, and learn about a few hemp strains.

Pennsylvania’s new hemp rules may hurt early farmers but boost the industry

Hemp could rocket to become one of Pennsylvania’s major cash crops under new regulations published last week by the state Department of Agriculture. At the same time, those new regulations could inadvertently crush small farmers who still are sitting on their 2019 hemp harvest.

Pioneering hemp farmers, who grew the crop under the state’s experimental pilot program, may find that their cannabis plants — now stored in barns and warehouses — may be too laden with the intoxicating substance THC to be approved for sale, legal experts said. Several thousands of acres of hemp were planted in Pennsylvania last year.

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Under the state’s new standards and requirements, testing will be increased significantly for marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin.

The act, which is effective immediately, “represents a fundamental change in how the hemp industry is regulated in Pennsylvania,” said Bill Roark, an attorney who is cochair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Medical Marijuana and Hemp Law Committee.

According to the Department of Agriculture, hemp can be processed into thousands of products — including food, textiles, construction materials, oils, and the fashionable dietary supplement CBD. Analysts project that by 2025, hemp could become a $25 billion industry.

Farmers are looking at hemp as a lucrative crop. Where an acre of corn might generate $300 to $500 in profit, and tobacco $1,000 to $3,000, they expect some hemp varieties — those grown for CBD extraction — to fetch $10,000 or more.

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Applications to grow hemp and instructions were posted last week on the state Department of Agriculture’s website.

By definition industrial hemp may contain only 0.3 percent THC, the intoxicating compound in marijuana. Smokable medical marijuana flower — when it’s available — typically contains between 7% and 35% THC.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said it will allow hemp producers some leeway, but not much. Any hemp containing over 0.5 percent THC must be destroyed.

Here’s where potential problems exist for last year’s hemp farmers.

Hemp grown in Pennsylvania last year was tested only for delta-9 THC, usually the most prevalent psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant. But in 2020, testing also will include THCA, a precursor compound that is converted to THC with the application of heat.

“A lot of growers produced plants where the delta-9 THC level was below 0.3, but the THCA level was well in excess, sometimes 1, 2, or 3 percent,” said Roark.

And that might explain why so many people who smoked hemp flower this past year reported getting high from it.

“They fixed that loophole, now I’m afraid that will render a lot of plants grown last year unusable,” Roark said. “There are barns and warehouses full of it. Some farmers have spent thousands of dollars growing it. By law, processors will have to reject the hemp because it will test ‘hot,’ that is, way above the acceptable 2020 levels.”

The vice president of Hoophouse, a Bucks County-based hemp grower and processor, said his company already has had to turn down a contract to process 80,000 pounds of hemp from an out-of-state producer. “It was over the THC limit so we had to refuse it,” said Matt Baxter. “So we’re aware that some farmers are having issues.”

Other than the new THC guidelines, most of the new regulations were greeted enthusiastically by Pennsylvania hemp experts.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Erica Stark, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council. “The Pennsylvania program is as flexible as it can be while remaining compliant with federal law.”

Individual farmers may plant as many acres as they desire. But backyard hemp gardens are effectively forbidden — no hemp may be grown within 200 feet of a residential dwelling. Outdoor farmers must cultivate a minimum of 300 plants on at least a quarter acre. Indoor growers must maintain a minimum of 2,000 square feet and 200 plants. The price of a hemp permit — which was once $3,000 two years ago — has plummeted to $150.

Those provisions and permit price breaks may encourage more agricultural pros to consider hemp.

But Stark worries about the necessary infrastructure needed to ensure hemp crops find a market. Among the new regulations are requirements for THC testing at several stops along the supply chain. There may not be enough testing labs in the state to prevent serious bottlenecks. “There are only so many labs across the entire country,” she said. “I’m concerned about the logistics.”

There are also few processors capable of rendering hemp into sellable materials in the state. The new standards allow for stand-alone processor permits.

Among other notable standards in the new regulations:

Hemp may not be grown within three miles of any medical marijuana facility, which is likely intended to prevent cross pollination, and it must not be cultivated within 1,000 feet of any school pre-K through 12.

Anyone with a financial interest in producing or processing hemp must undergo an FBI background check.

Stark’s husband, Les Stark, is also a hemp activist, grower, and moderator of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition Facebook group. Though he’s optimistic about the future, he’s advising aspiring farmers to be cautious.

“I’ve been trying to build enthusiasm for 20 years,” Les Stark said. “Now I’m trying to tamp it down a little bit. I don’t want people to have 100 acres of hemp and not have a market. You don’t want to put seeds in the ground until you have a contract to sell it.

“I know farmers who were successful, but also know farmers who took a gamble but couldn’t find a buyer,” he said.

Hemp could rocket to become one of Pa.’s major cash crops under new regulations. But those regulations could inadvertently crush small farmers who still are sitting on their 2019 hemp harvest. ]]>