California legislation expands hemp definition and opens up agricultural possibilities

Oct 5, 2018

Governor Jerry Brown of California has signed hemp legislation SB 1409 into law, a move that greatly expands hemp farming in the state. Signed on September 30, 2018, the law will take effect on January 1, 2019. The new law removes barriers to hemp growing in the state, including removing the requirement that hemp grown in California be limited to the list of approved seed cultivars certified before a cutoff date of January 1, 2013.

The new law also removes the definition of industrial hemp as a fiber and oilseed crop, expanding its definition to include extracts and derivatives from the plant’s non-psychoactive flowers and leaves. Additionally, the new legislation authorizes the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture to establish and carry out, as part of the industrial hemp registration program, an agricultural pilot program, in alignment with federal requirements.

According to hemp-advocacy group Vote Hemp, California is now one of 40 states that has defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production, allowing the state to take immediate advantage of the industrial hemp research and pilot program provision, Section 7606, of the Farm Bill. At the federal level, the Hemp Farming Act (S. 2667) has passed the Senate and is being negotiating in Congress.

Removing these restrictions will help grow hemp agriculture in the state. “By removing limitations on the types of industrial hemp seed cultivars that may be cultivated, the means by which industrial hemp may be produced, and the purposes for which industrial hemp may be cultivated, with payment of a registration or renewal fee, the bill would establish new sources of revenue for a continuously appropriated fund, thereby making an appropriation,” says the legislation.

Vote Hemp sponsored the legislation. In a press release, Vote Hemp’s president Eric Steenstra said, “Agriculture is a hugely important sector of the California economy, and we are thrilled that farmers can now benefit from the economic opportunity of hemp farming. We are grateful to the bill’s co-sponsors, Ojai Energetics, Hoban Law Group, and Politico Group, for their legal and lobbying support, and to Senator Scott Wilk for authoring this legislation and championing its passage in California.”