While hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, hemp does not produce the same intoxicating effect marijuana does. The difference is their levels of THC, the potentially intoxicating compound. According to the USDA, hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC. Marijuana contains a higher level of THC, often over 10%.
There are numerous varieties of hemp. Different varieties are better for different purposes. Hemp may be divided into three main categories: fiber, grain and high-cannabinoid producing, such as high-CBD hemp varieties. Whether you choose to grow for fiber, grain or CBD production will determine which varieties you will want to grow.
A licensed cultivator may not plant or grow hemp:
- on any site not approved by ODA;
- within one hundred feet of any structure that is used for residential purposes;
- in any structure used for residential purposes;
- in an outdoor growing location less than one-quarter acre;
- in an indoor growing location less than one thousand square feet;
- in a quantity of fewer than one thousand plants;
- in any growing location within a half a mile of a licensed medical marijuana cultivator;
- in any growing location that is located within five hundred feet of a school or public park;
- on any property that is not owned or leased by the licensed cultivator.
A variance may be requested for some of the items above.
All applicants and key participants must undergo a background check prior to applying with ODA. "Key Participant" means a sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, or a person with executive managerial control. A person with executive managerial control includes persons such as a chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer. This definition does not include non-executive managers such as farm, field, or shift managers.
In order to obtain a background check, please visit one of Ohio's WebCheck locations listed here. When visiting please select “Licensing for hemp cultivation and processing” from the drop-down menu. Please note that all applicants and key participants must obtain both a BCI and an FBI background check.
Please contact the Hemp Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614.728.2101 if you have questions or concerns regarding our background check requirements.
Only the applicant or persons with a controlling interest in the business entity must submit a background check and fingerprints.
Any felony involving a controlled substance within the last ten years prior to applying for a license.
A cultivator plants, waters, grows, fertilizes, tills or harvests a plant or crop. A cultivator also possesses or stores a plant or crop on a premise where the plant or crop was cultivated until transported to the first point of sale.
A processor converts hemp into a hemp product. A hemp product means any product, containing a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than three-tenths of a percent, that is made with hemp. "Hemp product" includes hemp buds, flowers, cigarettes, cigars, shredded hemp, cosmetics, personal care products, dietary supplements or food intended for animal or human consumption, cloth, cordage, fiber, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard, and any other product containing one or more cannabinoids derived from hemp, including cannabidiol.
Processing does not include on-farm drying or dehydrating of raw hemp materials by a licensed hemp cultivator for sale directly to a licensed hemp processor. Processing includes production and/or packaging of raw hemp flower for smokable hemp.
For questions please contact the Food Safety Division at 614-728-6250.
Wholesale production means the production of hemp products that are processed, packaged, manufactured or otherwise held or handled for distribution to another location or for sale at wholesale.
Retail production means the production of hemp products that are prepared, served or otherwise held or handled for sale to the end consumer at the site of production, including a mobile retail facility.
For questions please contact the Food Safety Division at 614-728-6250.
You may change your field location and growing site every year. However, if you change your field location or growing site in mid-season, you will be subject to the $250 site modification fee.
The minimum acreage requirement for an outdoor growing location is one-quarter acre. The minimum requirement for an indoor growing location is 1000 square feet.
There is a minimum requirement of 1000 plants required for outdoor and indoor growing locations.
It is not required to fence the property where hemp is grown. You may post signs identifying it as hemp, but signs are not required.
Seeds and clones are available from multiple domestic and international sources. You can order seed or clones after you receive your license. You must transport and store seeds and clones in a secure manner. Click here for general information on the importation of hemp seeds and plants.
Companies distributing seed in Ohio must be licensed as a Seed Labeler in Ohio and ensure compliance with the seed labeling rules. Click here for a list of licensed labelers. Seedlings or clones should be sourced from a reliable grower that is licensed to produce hemp under the USDA plan or a state-approved plan.
You do not need to notify the sheriff or local police about your hemp fields and processing locations. Once you register with the department, we will share your field location and contact information with USDA and local law enforcement. For this reason, it is essential that you provide accurate field location information and maps and keep the department updated if you need to change growing, storage or processing locations. This saves the grower and processor from unwanted attention and saves law enforcement time and money on unnecessary investigations. Make sure all locations where hemp will be grown, stored or processed are registered with the department prior to planting, storing or processing the hemp.
The ideal planting time for outdoor hemp production is from mid-May to mid-June. Soil temperatures should be at least 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Hemp likes warm soil. Cold soils and pathogens may kill seedlings if you plant too early.
Hemp can be grown on the same land for many years in succession, but rotation with other crops is recommended. Hemp responds well to most preceding crops.
Most conventional drills and seeders will work for hemp grain and fiber varieties. Those varieties can also be broadcasted into a well-prepped seedbed, but you will need to ensure good seed to soil contact by utilizing a roller or cultipacker. When utilizing an air drill, use lower air volumes to avoid seed cracking, and plant ½ - 1 inch maximum into a firm seedbed. Avoid seeding when heavy rain is in the forecast as the seedlings will not have enough strength to break through crusted soil. Hemp grown for CBD production is normally transplanted and can be planted with a mechanical transplanter or by hand.
Hemp plants have nutrient needs similar to corn, typically requiring application of nitrogen annually. Neighboring states and Canada, where hemp research has already taken place, suggest that hemp needs anywhere from 100 to 120 pounds of nitrogen per acre. The amount of other nutrients that hemp plants need is dependent on soil structure and pH, therefore phosphorus and potassium fertilizer application should be based on soil test results.
There are very few pesticides labeled for use on hemp at this time. Weed control is achieved through cultivation and canopy cover. Please work with your local extension office and chemical retailers to determine when pesticide options become available or click here and search for Hemp in the “Site” tab.
Please refer to the hemp fact sheet for growing and harvesting information on the three most common types of hemp.
Different varieties are better for different purposes. Whether you grow hemp for fiber, grain production, or CBD will determine which varieties you will want to grow. Please refer to this fact sheet for some growing and harvesting information about the three most common types of hemp.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is providing publicly available information from our neighboring States to help cultivators in Ohio make informed decisions when selecting hemp varieties for 2020. For the 2020 growing season there are no prohibited hemp varieties in Ohio. ODA encourages cultivators to do their research to ensure that the variety that they select is equal to or below 0.3% Total THC.
Hemp can grow in many types of soil, but it does particularly well in well-drained soils. Like most plants, high-quality soils produce high-quality plants.
All hemp shall be tested by ODA to determine the THC levels of the plant material. Samples must have an acceptable hemp THC level (equal to or below 0.3%) in order to enter the marketplace. Samples exceeding the acceptable hemp THC level will be reported to the licensed cultivator as soon as possible. The licensed cultivator may request a second sample to be tested of the same field, greenhouse, building, or site where the original sample was taken. The hemp plants selected for sampling shall be determined by ODA. If a second sample is not requested, or the second sample again exceeds the acceptable hemp THC level, the area represented by the sample, or any harvested plant parts from the area represented by the sample shall be ordered destroyed by ODA.
Cultivators can utilize private laboratories to test their fields throughout the growing season to measure THC in their growing locations. This mid-season testing may be done at a lab of the cultivator’s choosing. The official regulatory sample may only be taken by ODA staff and analyzed by ODA’s laboratory or a contracted laboratory of ODA’s choosing.
ODA does not require post-harvest testing. Although, processors and manufacturers may require testing. Regardless of testing, all hemp and hemp products must meet the legal definition of hemp.
You do not need a license to sell hemp or hemp products, including CBD oil, but such products do need to meet Ohio's food safety standards and must be inspected by the appropriate local or state agency. The packaging must indicate that an item is below 0.3% total THC, total THC is defined as (THC + (THCA * .877).
Please contact our Division of Food Safety for more information at email@example.com or (614) 728-6250.
Yes. ODA conducts a surveillance program where it selects random hemp products to be tested and verified for compliance with THC potency, harmful pesticides, and labeling requirements. If the testing demonstrates that the products do not meet Ohio standards, ODA will embargo the products.