It is common knowledge that hemp and marijuana are both produced from the cannabis plant. Although plants used for hemp production do contain small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of marijuana, it is at an exceptionally low level compared to cannabis strains used to produce marijuana. Smoking industrial hemp will not get you “high” like smoking marijuana does. Industrial hemp has been used for thousands of years to produce rope, textiles, canvas and clothing from its fibers. Hemp can also be used to produce oil and food items. Due to its high cannabidiol (CBD) content, hemp plants can be used to produce CBD oil which has shown to have potential medical applications (although the DEA is currently disputing such claims).
The cultivation and use of hemp has a long and storied history in the United States. George Washington grew hemp at Mt. Vernon to produce rope and canvas for sailing ships. See, President’s Hemp. Hemp rope and sails were likely used to rig the USS Constitution and other ships of the fledgling United States Navy during the revolutionary war. Large scale cultivation of hemp in the United States continued until the 20th century when it was outlawed as part of the Controlled Substances Act. Consequently, the cultivation of industrial hemp was prohibited in the United States for decades.
The Farm Bill
Federal law regarding industrial hemp saw a massive shift as a result of the Agriculture Act of 2014, commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill”. The Agriculture Act is an omnibus bill that generally sets the agriculture and food policies of the United States and is passed by Congress roughly every five years. Section 7606 of the 2014 version removed prohibitions on the cultivation of industrial hemp in states where it is legal as part of a research program through universities or the State Department of Agriculture. This shift in federal policy towards hemp is nothing less than a sea change brought about by years of hard work and sacrifices by proponents of industrial hemp.
Senate Bill 305
The Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 305 (SB305), which adopted Section 7606 of the Farm Bill. SB 305 allows eligible persons or entities in Nevada to carry out research projects as part of the pilot program within the State of Nevada under the guidance of the Department of Agriculture.
A copy of SB 305 is available here:
Senate Bill 305
SB 305 set the basic parameters for the hemp program in Nevada. It defines industrial hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” SB305 required all producers or handlers of hemp to register with the Nevada Department of Agriculture and gave the Department the authority to restrict or prohibit the production of CBD oil or products from legally grown industrial hemp plants.
Under SB305, the Nevada Department of Agriculture was given regulatory authority over the industrial hemp program in Nevada. Including:
- Acting as seed handler; procuring and delivering seed
- Enforcing regulations to ensure proper legality with cultivation activity
- Performing inspections to maintain research credibility and hemp status
- Providing industry support to assist with sustainable growth and development
Senate Bill 396
Senate Bill 396 (SB396) expanded the industrial hemp program in Nevada to include the production of hemp for commercial purposes. SB396 also provides for the regulated production of seeds at licensed hemp farms in Nevada. Under SB396 the Department of Agriculture maintains regulatory authority over the industrial hemp program. SB396 also allows for testing of industrial hemp at a Nevada independent testing laboratory (which is a licensed marijuana establishment) and also allows for a facility for the production of marijuana infused products and a marijuana dispensary to purchase industrial hemp from a grower or handler of industrial hemp.
Parties interested in applying for the industrial hemp program in Nevada must submit an application fee to the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Potential applicants should also check with the local authorities for the jurisdiction in which they are considering applying to ensure that the location they intend to use is suitable for hemp cultivation. Some jurisdictions may have enacted restrictions or regulations that would make certain locations less desirable than others.
Applicants must pay a $500.00 fee to the Department of Agriculture plus $5.00 per each outdoor acreage. Indoor operators must pay the $500.00 application fee plus $0.33 per 1000 square feet of indoor cultivation. Applicants are also responsible for paying inspection costs and inspector drive time at $50.00 per hour.
The Application Form is available from the Department of Agriculture here:
Department of Agriculture Hemp Application