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Hemp Program
Hemp Program

The Hemp Program was created to allow licensed individuals to grow and process hemp for fiber, grain production, and dietary needs in Ohio.  The program is administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and is approved by the USDA.


Hemp is a cannabis plant like marijuana, however, it does not produce intoxicating effects. Hemp yields a strong fiber that is used in textiles and the seed has nutritional value. Oils from hemp plants such as Cannabidiol, or CBD, can be extracted from the plant and added to a variety of products, such as food or dietary supplements.

It is legal to grow and process hemp in our state, but growers and processors must be licensed. Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has created hemp cultivation and processing rules.


Hemp can be cultivated all over Ohio, but ODA must approve all growing sites. For specific rules on where hemp can be grown, click here.

Hemp can be cultivated through clones or seeds. Clones can be obtained from a licensed greenhouse or processor. Seeds can be purchased from agricultural businesses.

In order to cultivate hemp in Ohio, a grower must obtain a license from ODA. The application window for hemp cultivation licenses in any year is November 1 – March 31. Please note the application window for cultivators has been extended in 2020 to May 1 to accommodate first year licensing. The licenses are good for three years. All applicants must pass a background check. Individuals who have a felony involving a controlled substance within the last 10 years will not be granted licenses.

The application fee for a hemp cultivator's license is $100, and the annual license fee is $500 per growing location.

The grower must provide ODA with the address, map and GPS coordinates for each field, greenhouse, building or storage facility. Additionally, the grower must provide the number of outdoor acres, indoor square footage and number of plants to be planted.

If growing hemp indoors, an indoor planting report must be submitted to ODA.


In order to process hemp in Ohio, a processor must obtain a license from ODA.

Processors will be required to test each lot. They will collect samples and test them in an accredited testing lab that meets ODA requirements.

Processors must pay an application fee of $100.

Annual license fees for each processing site:

$500 for processing raw grain

$500 for processing raw fiber

$3000 for processing the raw floral component

Annual license fees for processing cannabinoids in human and animal food, dietary supplements, cosmetics and personal care products for each processing site:

$500 for wholesale production
$250 for retail production 


Universities are able to cultivate and process hemp for research purposes. Non-university research is also allowed. Entities must obtain a license and are not permitted to sell any of their research material. 


ODA will begin accepting applications March 3 at noon. To apply for a cultivator, processor or research license, you must first:

  • Create an OH|ID account - When applying for a hemp license, the OH|ID account created must be in the name, email, and phone number of the: individual applicant, principal researcher, and/or the individual who is authorized to sign on behalf of the business
  • If you need assistance, detailed instructions for creating a new OH|ID log-in are available online  
  • Once your account has been created, sign into your new OH|ID account 
  • After you have signed into your OH|ID account, close that tab, then return to this page
  • Then click here to apply


ODA will collect and test samples from all growers to check for the appropriate THC levels, below 0.3%. Licensed cultivators must notify ODA of their intended harvest date AT LEAST 15 days prior. The Department’s inspectors will visit each growing location to collect a sample(s) within this timeframe. Once collected, the samples will then be tested at either the ODA’s laboratory or a contracted laboratory to determine the sample’s THC level. After ODA takes its sample, licensed cultivators must harvest their growing location within 15 days. 


It is legal to sell CBD products in Ohio, manufactured either in or out-of-state. All products must be below the .3% THC limit and product labels must not contain inaccurate health claims. ODA will randomly test CBD products for safety and accurate labeling to protect Ohio consumers.


What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

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%.


Are there different varieties of hemp?

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.


Are there restrictions on where hemp can be grown?

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.


How do I get a background check?

All applicants and persons with a controlling interest in the business entity must submit a set of fingerprints obtained by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).

ODA will only accept fingerprints submitted directly from BCI. Click here for BCI locations and contact information.


If my hemp license is in my business name, do all of my employees have to pass a background check?

Only the applicant or persons with a controlling interest in the business entity must submit a background check and fingerprints.


What type of convictions disqualify me in the background check?

Any felony involving a controlled substance within the last ten years prior to applying for a license.


What is the difference between a cultivator and a processor?

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.


What is the difference between a wholesale production and a retail production?

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.


Can I change my field locations or add a growing or processing site?

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.


Is there a minimum acreage requirement?

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.


Do I need to build a fence or put up signage around my field?

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.


How do I obtain hemp seed or clones for growing?

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.


Do I need to notify local authorities or does ODA do it?

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.


When do you plant 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.


Can you plant hemp on hemp? How does hemp fit in to a crop rotation?

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.


How do you sow it? What equipment and at what depth? Can you broadcast or do you have to drill?

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.


Do you need to fertilize hemp?

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.


What pesticides can be used on hemp?

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.  


How do you harvest? And when?

Please refer to the hemp fact sheet for growing and harvesting information on the three most common types of hemp.


What are the best varieties to grow in Ohio?

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.


Are there any prohibited hemp varieties?

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.

ODA encourages cultivators to review the prohibited variety lists from Kentucky and Pennsylvania and the Official Sample Results from Indiana and Michigan.


What type of soil does hemp like?

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.


What if plants test above 0.3% THC?

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.


Can I send my hemp sample to a private laboratory?

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. 


Do you require post-harvest testing?

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.


Do I need a license to sell hemp and hemp products including CBD oil?

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 foodsafety@agri.ohio.gov or (614) 728-6250.


Does ODA test products manufactured outside of Ohio?

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.