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Request for Public Comment - Hemp Cultivation and Processing

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is accepting comments regarding hemp cultivation and processing rules proposed in Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 901:14-1 and 901:14-2. The rule in this package has been reviewed pursuant to Chapter 119 of the Revised Code and are being proposed as follows. The comment period will remain open through October 30, 2019. Comments may be emailed to eComments@agri.ohio.gov or mailed to Legal Section, Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (more commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill) decriminalized hemp on a federal level paving the way for state Departments of agriculture to establish hemp cultivation programs across the county. Hemp is a cannabis plant, grown for its many industrial uses.  Unlike marijuana, hemp does not produce intoxicating effects.  Hemp yields a strong fiber, used in textiles.  The seed has nutritional value and can be eaten.  Cannabinoids, including cannabidiol or CBD, can be extracted from the plant.  Cannabinoids are now being used in food and dietary supplements.

On July 30, 2019, Governor DeWine signed into law Senate Bill 57 (SB 57) which decriminalized hemp on a state level. SB 57 requires the Ohio Department of Agriculture to adopt rules which establish federally compliant standards and procedures for the program. 

The rules, summarized below, accomplish this task and establish the regulations for hemp cultivation in Ohio:

-    Rule 901:14-1-01 provides a list of definitions for the chapter. These definitions apply to the rules of this chapter. Included in the definitions is a list of disqualifying offenses for the purposes of ORC 928.03(C).

-    Rule 901:14-1-02 establishes a licensure requirement for hemp cultivation. The rule outlines the requirements for licensure as well as license window, term, and renewal process.

-    Rule 901:14-1-03 establishes the application submission process and the application criteria, including basic identifying information, global position system coordinates, and any other information deemed necessary by the Department.

-    Rule 901:14-1-04 establishes the fees required under this chapter.

-    Rule 901:14-1-05 describes the criminal background check process required under ORC 928.03.

-    Rule 901:14-1-06 outlines land use restrictions for licensed cultivators. The rule includes minimum acreage and plant requirements needed in order to obtain a license. Further, the rule establishes how far hemp plants must be planted away from schools, public parks, and other residential buildings.

-    Rule 901:14-1-07 allows for the establishment of a list of prohibited varieties that may not be planted in Ohio. 

-    Rule 901:14-1-08 outlines the administrative requirements for harvesting hemp. The rule outlines the process by which a cultivator will notify the Department of their proposed harvest date as well as reports that must be generated.

-    Rule 901:14-1-09 establishes the sampling procedure used by the Department to verify the cultivator’s compliance with the less than or equal to 0.3% THC requirement. The rule indicates that the Department will take a sample of at least five plants within the cultivator’s growing location.

-    Rule 901:14-1-10 establishes that the Department’s laboratory shall be the official regulatory lab for hemp in Ohio. The rule outlines the use of the samples taken by the Department’s inspectors for testing purposes. Further, the rule establishes that any sample with a THC level of greater than 0.3% shall be destroyed.

-    Rule 901:14-1-11 sets out the procedure by which hemp plants shall be destroyed.

-    Rule 901:14-1-12 outlines the reporting and recordkeeping requirements for licensed cultivators. The rule requires that cultivators complete planting and production reports outlining exactly where hemp plants are planted and the collective harvest.

-    Rule 901:14-1-13 requires licensed cultivators to control feral or “volunteer” hemp plants which may grow in following years.

-    Rule 901:14-1-14 requires licensed cultivators to comply with all requirements of chapters 905 and 921 as it relates to fertilizer and pesticide application.

-    Rule 901:14-1-15, as required by ORC 928.03(S), establishes that the Department shall cooperate with law enforcement and federal agencies.

-    Rule 901:14-1-16 establishes rules and regulations regarding clone and seed production.

-    Rule 901:14-1-99 outlines the enforcement actions the Department can take for violations to the rules of this chapter.

The rules, summarized below, establish the hemp processing regulations in Ohio:

-    Rule 901:14-2-01 provides a list of definitions for the chapter. These definitions apply to the rules of this chapter. Included in the definitions is a list of disqualifying offenses for the purposes of ORC 928.03(C).

-    Rule 901:14-2-02 establishes a licensure requirement for hemp processing. The rule outlines the requirements for licensure as well as the license term and renewal process.

-    Rule 901:14-2-03 establishes the application submission process and the application criteria, including basic identifying information, global position system coordinates, and any other information deemed necessary by the Department.

-    Rule 901:14-2-04 establishes the fees required under this chapter.

-    Rule 901:14-2-05 describes the criminal background check process required under ORC 928.03.

-    Rule 901:14-2-06 outlines land use restrictions for licensed processors. The rule establishes how far hemp processors must be located away from schools, public parks, and other residential buildings.

-    Rule 901:14-2-07 establishes financial responsibility requirements for licensed processors. The rule requires that entities who purchase raw, unprocessed hemp plant material must maintain current assets, in the form of a surety bond, of at least five percent of the total purchases of raw, plant material made in the previous calendar year – or - $10,000 whichever is greater.

-    Rule 901:14-2-08 establishes the sampling and inspection procedure used by the Department to verify the processor’s compliance with the rules of this chapter. The rule indicates that the Department may take samples to establish the processor is meeting the less than or equal to 0.3% THC requirement.

-    Rule 901:14-2-09 requires all processors to remain in compliance with the federal food safety regulations, which are adopted in chapter 901:3-17 of the Ohio Administrative Code.

-    Rule 901:14-2-10 sets forth the sources licensed processors may utilize in the production of hemp products.

-    Rule 901:14-2-11 details the components of processor operations and extraction plans. This rule includes limits on the methods, equipment, solvents and gases utilized in the manufacture of hemp products.

-    Rule 901:14-2-12 outlines the specific extraction methods that are permissible. Additionally, the rule requires specific training and education based on the type of extraction method chosen.

-    Rule 901:14-2-13 requires that all hemp products, prior to being offered for sale, shall be tested in accordance with the rule. The rule outlines the particular contaminants to be tested for, as well as, cannabinoid potency. The rule provides an exception for hemp products made exclusively from fiber and hemp seed products.

-    Rule 901:14-2-14 establishes the minimum requirements for laboratories capable of doing the testing required by OAC 901:14-2-13.

-    Rule 901:14-2-15 establishes that licensed processors must obtain a certificate of analysis regarding their products which comply with OAC 901:14-2-13.

-    Rule 901:14-2-16 addresses the different ways a processor can dispose of hemp waste and byproducts that contain cannabinoids, including rendering it unusable in a locked dumpster or composting the waste on-site for future use on-site. The rule lists the material that can be mixed with the waste to render it unusable pursuant to the rule.

-    Rule 901:14-2-17 establishes the labeling requirements for hemp products. These requirements are based on how the product is marketed and mirrors FDA labeling standards.

-    Rule 901:14-2-18 sets out the recordkeeping requirements for licensed processors.

-    Rule 901:14-2-19 establishes a list of prohibited products. This list includes products that test higher that the established limits for contaminants and THC.

-    Rule 901:14-2-20 establishes embargo authority for that adulterated or misbranded products pursuant to Chapter 3715 of the Revised Code.

-    Rule 901:14-2-99 outlines enforcement authority for violations to the rules of this chapter.