Department of Agriculture officials said Thursday the state will not have rules
in place for a spring planting of an industrial hemp crop.
Cramer, the agency’s director of market access and certification, said the
recent passage of the
federal Farm Bill, which included an industrial hemp provision,
prompted state officials to slow down their rule-making efforts.
this year approved a provision that allows colleges, universities and state
agriculture programs to grow hemp for research and for pilot projects. It does
not protect individual farmers who grow the crop, a non-intoxicating
relative of marijuana grown for its sturdy fiber and seeds.
said his agency, which does not own land and lacks expertise in hemp
production, is not considering such a program. Oregon State University, which under the new provision could produce and research hemp, isn’t planning on one either.
Russ Karow, head of the university’s crop soil science department, said the federal prohibition on marijuana poses too much of a risk for the university. He said lawyers for the school advised against a hemp program out of fear that it could potentially jeopardize the federal funding OSU receives.
pointed to a handful of factors that pose a challenge for industrial hemp
production in the state, including how to legally obtain hemp seeds verified as
low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana’s psychoactive component.
a hemp program, under state law, also requires handlers who are licensed to
process the plant from its raw state into usable products.
are no current handlers” in Oregon, he said. “There are no people who are
handling fiber or seed.”
issue: determining the level of interest among Oregonians in growing the crop.
Cramer said that HAS made it tough to calculate licensing fees, which would
support the program. Officials estimate licensing fees would range from $5,000
to $7,000 – an expense Cramer worries would impact participation.
don’t want a program to be cost prohibitive to the point where growers can’t do
it,” he said.
agency has asked legislature for money – about $76,000 — to help get the
state’s industrial hemp program off the ground.
is one of a handful of states with laws that permit the production of
industrial hemp. Agriculture officials have held off implementing the state’s
2009 law, saying they would wait until the federal government reclassified
marijuana from a substance prone to abuse and lacking medicinal value.
federal government last year said it would not challenge marijuana legalization
laws in Colorado and Washington, a decision that invigorated the hemp movement.
Federal law makes no distinction between marijuana and hemp.
that allow hemp production today sanction a select list of well-established
strains that have been bred to have exceptionally low THC levels. Canada and
European countries cap hemp’s THC level at less than .3 percent.
retail value of hemp food- and body-care products sold in the United States in
2010 was estimated to be worth about $40 million, according to one market
said the implementation of an industrial hemp program in Oregon is complicated
but not impossible.
agricultural industry is very good at growing and producing crops, but when you
add a federal element in and it’s as emotionally complicated as this, it’s
provided some obstacles to get there,” said Cramer. “But it’s not