Oklahoma Hemp Overview

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What Is Hemp?

Hemp means Cannabis sativa plant and any of its parts, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 THC concentration level not exceeding three-tenths of a percentage on a dry weight basis. Hemp may also be called industrial hemp as it can be cultivated for industrial purposes, such as in the production of textiles, biofuels, and plastics.

Hemp is often thought to be the same plant as marijuana. While both plants are from the Cannabis sativa species, hemp does not produce the same intoxicating effect in users as marijuana. The difference in impact on consumers lies in the level of THC, the psychoactive compound found in large amounts in marijuana. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, hemp plants and their products must contain less than 0.3% THC. Cannabis plants with high THC contents are classified as marijuana.

Hemp plant parts and derivatives commonly sold and consumed for nutritional and medicinal purposes include hemp flowers, hemp seeds, hemp oil, hemp milk, and hemp hearts. Hemp seeds can be roasted, cooked, or eaten raw. They can be shelled as hemp hearts, cold-pressed to produce hemp seed oil, and used for non-dairy hemp cheese and hemp milk. Hemp oil is a nutty-flavored oil extracted from hemp seeds by cold pressing. Hemp oil is green while raw, but it becomes colorless when refined. Hemp oils are thought to provide various health benefits, such as in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, and the complications of menopause. The unprocessed bud of the hemp plant is known as hemp flower. Hemp flowers, when dried, contain the whole range of terpenes and cannabinoids found in hemp plants. Hemp flower is often taken in smoked form, and its CBD concentration provides a soothing effect.

Is Hemp Legal in Oklahoma?

The 2014 Farm Bill started the revitalization of the industrial hemp industry in the United States. The United States Congress authorized states to establish industrial hemp pilot programs under the 2014 bill. It also enabled academic institutions and state agricultural agencies to grow hemp for the purposes of research, production, and commercialization, as long as these activities were located in states where hemp pilot programs were established.

Although the 2014 Farm Bill permitted hemp to be cultivated lawfully for the first time in nearly 50 years, there are still considerable limitations on cultivating hemp and the hemp industry. One of those limitations include the failure of Congress to exert its power to allow for the legal cultivation of hemp by everyone in all states. Also, the United States Congress expressly left it up to the states to decide whether to launch pilot programs, leaving farmers in states without hemp pilot programs unable to grow hemp legally.

In another limitation, the text of the 2014 Farm Bill did not explicitly state that industrial hemp was excluded from the Controlled Substances Act's classification of marijuana. This meant that hemp remained a Schedule I Substance under the control of the DEA. It complicated the process of obtaining seeds even further since Schedule I substances, including hemp, are prohibited from being transported across state lines. This limitation applied whether the seed was transported in a vehicle or through the USPS or another carrier.

Unlike many states which adopted hemp pilot programs based on the 2014 Farm Bill, the closest Oklahoma got to legalizing hemp during that period was the passage of HB 2154 into law. HB 2154 permitted the sale of CBD oil with less than 0.3% THC under its medical marijuana program.

Some of the concerns of the 2014 Farm Bill were resolved by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill. Significantly, industrial hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act's classification of marijuana, declassifying hemp as a Schedule I substance. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp must be regulated similarly to other agricultural crops.

The 2018 Farm Bill also created shared jurisdiction for hemp regulation between states and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA was authorized to create hemp production rules under the 2018 Farm Bill. States may also develop their own hemp-regulation plans, which must be submitted to and authorized by the USDA. If a state opts not to submit a hemp production plan, the USDA regulations will apply to farmers intending to grow hemp in that state, thereby allowing farmers in any state to grow hemp.

After watching other states experiment with hemp pilot programs following the 2014 Farm Bill, Representatives Mickey Dollens and Jon Echols co-authored HB 2913, proposing to establish industrial hemp pilot programs and providing the State of Oklahoma with a robust source of revenue. In April 2018, Governor Mary Fallin signed HB 2913 into law. Under HB 2913, the state's industrial hemp agricultural pilot program was mandated to be overseen by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. Oklahoma farmers may work in conjunction with universities in the state to cultivate certified hemp seed for research and development for industrial uses per HB 2913.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma does not prohibit any form of hemp product. Therefore, residents can purchase hemp oils, topicals, seeds, edibles, and vapes as long as they contain no more than the stipulated 0.3% limit for THC. It is legal to smoke hemp in Oklahoma; however, the state has zero tolerance for THC and its inactive metabolites found in the blood, urine, or saliva test. Hence, while there are no restrictions on smoking while in a vehicle, it is recommended that residents not smoke hemp products while driving or in public locations. Due to the similarities in smell and appearance between hemp and marijuana, you may experience some inconveniences from local law enforcement if caught smoking hemp in public.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma's hemp law does not contain any provisions permitting its municipalities to enact orders or regulations that may prohibit farmers from cultivating hemp within their borders.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process in Oklahoma

Any individual aged 18 or older, or a business entity, may participate in the Oklahoma industrial hemp program by submitting an application to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF) for a license. The ODAFF requires applicants to complete the Hemp Grower License Application form or the Hemp Producer or Handle License Application form.

A criminal history report is required for the applicant and each key applicant listed on the application. A key participant refers to a person with direct or indirect financial interests in an entity producing hemp, such as a partner in a partnership. The criminal history reports must be dated within 60 days prior to the application submission date. The applicant must also provide proof of ownership for the hemp production area or a lease for the property in which the owner grants permission to the grower or processor to cultivate or produce hemp. Note that a separate application is required for each grow or production area.

Other required information on the application includes:

  • A map of the hemp grow area or processing area
  • The applicable application fee

Completed applications must be submitted to:

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry

2800 North Lincoln Boulevard

Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4972

For more information on obtaining hemp grower or processor licenses in Oklahoma, contact the ODAFF by emailing hemp@ag.ok.gov or calling (405) 522-5974.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Oklahoma?

The application fee for a hemp cultivation license in Oklahoma is $500 plus an additional $5 per acre or 33 cents per square foot of greenhouse. This fee is due annually in order to renew a cultivator license. The application fee and annual renewal fee for a hemp processor license are:

  • $1,000 for processors with annual sales below $50,000; or
  • $2,000 for processors with annual sales between $50,001 and $250,000; or
  • $5,000 for processors with annual sales of more than $250,000

Hemp cultivation and processor licenses expire on December 31 of the year in which the licenses are issued.

How to Grow Hemp in Oklahoma

It is recommended to plant hemp seeds between April and June; however, other planting conditions are more important than actual calendar dates. A soil temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above, 6-8 hours of sunshine each day, and well-drained soil are the ideal conditions to plant your hemp seeds. To aid germination, ensure you water the seeds well after planting. The seeds should start sprouting between 5 and 10 days, although some may take up to two weeks.

To prevent evaporation, hemp seeds should be thoroughly watered once a week, early in the morning or at sunset. Watering is critical for the first six weeks, after which hemp generally becomes drought resistant.

If you are starting your seeds indoors, it is recommended to do so in the first week of May. This gives the plant three weeks to develop before being transplanted outdoors. Seedlings should be watered gently daily and kept in a warm (above 70 degrees Fahrenheit) environment with 6-8 hours of sunshine. When the stems near the base of the seedlings become "woody" and more stable, the seeds are ready to be moved outdoors.

Due to the potential size of the plant at full maturity, seed spacing in some hemp fields is typically 4x6 inches. The additional area created using this planting method allows for easy harvesting of crops. However, you may still plant hemp close together with no serious problems. This will not only help keep weeds away, but it will also increase crop yields. If you need to use pesticides during your hemp cultivation process, review the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) combined pesticide regulations.

If you are cultivating hemp for fiber, your crops may be ready for harvest as soon as 4-8 weeks. However, the fiber will be more durable if you wait longer to harvest the stalk. If you are planting hemp for seeds, you may start harvesting around 12-16 weeks after planting when you see the seeds forming at the top of the crop. Some seeds towards the bottom of the plant may be hard, while others near the top may be soft and green. This is typical and indicates that your plant is not yet ready for seed harvest. Wait until the bulk of the seeds are hard in order to reap the maximum yield.

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Oklahoma?

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture permits the sale of smokable hemp flowers in Oklahoma. Hence, residents may purchase smokable hemp flowers from local stores and online shops. The state does not restrict hemp businesses located outside the state from shipping hemp flowers to the state. No limits are also placed on the quantity of hemp flowers Oklahomans may purchase.

Hemp vs. THC

THC is one of the well-known cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Therefore THC is found in both marijuana and hemp. However, THC is only found in limited quantities in the hemp plant. THC is a psychotropic compound that causes users to get intoxicated. With hemp containing no more than 0.3% THC, the chances of being intoxicated by hemp are slim. Hemp-derived THC may be sold in Oklahoma, provided the THC content does not exceed 0.3%.

Hemp vs. CBD

Even though CBD is often derived from hemp, CBD is not the same as hemp. CBD is an active chemical compound that is found in the hemp plant. Hemp contains more CBD and less THC than marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD or cannabidiol does not cause users to get high. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in Oklahoma, and the state has not stipulated any limits on the amount of hemp-derived CBD products that residents may purchase. CBD interacts with the receptors and the signaling system in the human body to treat various mental and physical conditions, including depression, addiction, anxiety, nausea, and pain.

Hemp Applications

Hemp is widely used in various industrial applications. Some of the applications of hemp include:

  • Textile: Hemp fabric is made of fibers of the hemp plant. Historically, it has been used for making rope and sails. Fabric made from hemp is an environmentally friendly material. Hemp-based textiles are hypoallergenic and non-irritating to the skin. Hemp fabrics are easily recyclable and have superior durability to most other fabric types
  • Construction: Due to its strength, flexibility, thermal, and insulating properties, some of the most innovative applications of hemp fiber today are in construction. It is used as a replacement for wood in the manufacturing of insulating panels and planks, as well as the primary component of compact bricks for outdoor and interior walls and roofing, replacing ordinary bricks. Hemp bricks and planks are waterproof, durable, and insulating, resulting in energy savings and enhanced soundproofing
  • Cosmetics: Hemp seed oil contains high and balanced essential fatty acid content, making it an ideal ingredient in beauty products. The essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids soothe and restore the skin when added to creams and salves. The natural texture provides lotions, lip balms, conditioners, shampoos, soaps, shaving products, and massage oils with superior emollience and a silky after-feel
  • Paper: Paper may be made from the fibers contained in hemp plants. Most hemp paper is manufactured from short hemp hurd originating from the stalk's inner core. Hemp paper can be used in the same manner as conventional paper. Industrial hemp paper's increased tensile strength makes it appropriate for paper money, stamps, paper towels, and other products required to hold up against repeated use
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Oklahoma Hemp Overview