Published 1:02 AM EST Thursday, February 25, 2021

  • A view of some cloned hemp plants is shown. Due to changes made by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, many hemp growers say it is uncertain whether they can afford to grow next season. (Associated Press, file)

    Fewer

    A view of some cloned hemp plants is shown. Due to changes made by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, many hemp growers say it is uncertain whether they can afford to grow next season.

    … more

A view of some cloned hemp plants is shown. Due to changes made by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, many hemp growers say it is uncertain whether they can afford to grow next season. (Associated Press, file)

Fewer

A view of some cloned hemp plants is shown. Due to changes made by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, many hemp growers say it is uncertain whether they can afford to grow next season.

… more

The new state plan leaves hemp farmers uncertain about the future

LANSING – Michigan hemp producers are frustrated with the new regulations and fees for reporting hemp samples.

Due to changes made by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, many hemp growers say it is uncertain if they can afford to grow next season.

Industrial hemp in Michigan began with a 2018 federal act that removed hemp, known as Cannabis Sativa L, as a Plan 1 controlled substance and made it an agricultural product, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In April 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started the pilot program of Industrial Hemp Ag for the 2019 growing season.

Manufacturers could apply to participate in the pilot program, which requires a registration fee of $ 100 and a processor handler license of $ 1,350.

According to the department, industrial hemp is cannabis with a maximum content of 0.3% 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

After the success of the pilot program, the department wanted a permanent plan. Last October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Michigan’s plan for the industrial hemp state.

At that time, the State Department announced that 631 producers and 517 processors were registered and / or licensed to grow, process and market industrial hemp.

The department changed how growers report their samples this year.

You will no longer submit your own samples for testing. Instead, the inspectors collect samples. Growers pay a visit fee of US $ 150 for on-site sampling and US $ 125 per testing fee for the sample laboratory, as well as the license fee of US $ 1,250.

Randy Lord, the owner of Empire Hemp Farm Inc. in Empire, said he wasn’t sure he would be planting next season because of the fee increase and the additional sampling fees. Lord’s company planted 120,000 plants in the summer of 2020.

“That’s roughly 1,500 to 1,600 plants per acre,” he said.

David Crabill, the vice president of iHemp Michigan in Ferrysburg, an organization that represents hemp growers, said sampling fees are standard and not a big deal for farms growing several acres of cannabinoids.

Crabill said the fees were increased to cover the cost of compliance with federal regulations.

He said the main problem with the new state plan is the test window, which prevents farmers from controlling when the inspection takes place.

If the inspection takes place on day 20, the THC concentration could be above the legal limit, according to Crabill, requiring the destruction of the plants.

Lori Putt, the owner of HOH Hempnotized in Honor, said she wasn’t sure she’d be planting this year either, speaking of a decline in the industry.

“The licensing and unknown fees for the tests are becoming very expensive in a market that is rapidly declining for hemp, CBD (short for cannabidiol, an ingredient in cannabis derived from the hemp plant), flowers and oil,” said Putt.

“Industrial hemp is really exciting, but the biggest problem we have is assets and capital in Michigan,” she said.

Both Putt and Lord fear that the costs associated with the higher license and sample test fees will further increase the already high operating costs.

And Crabill said, “The industry has to deal with hemp. The whole reason for these regulations is to expand the hemp industry.”