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Home > Plants, Pests & Pest Control > Industrial Hemp Program

Industrial Hemp Pilot Program

Provisions added to the 2014 Farm Bill (Public Law 113- 79) defined industrial hemp for the first time under federal law and granted state agricultural departments the authority to develop research pilot programs to study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp. While the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) currently recognizes no distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana, the language of the new Farm Bill provisions have drawn a line between the two types of Cannabis sativa L. and have allowed states to adopt their own pilot programs to grow industrial hemp. 

The Minnesota Industrial Hemp Development Act (IHDA), Minnesota Statues 18K.01- 18K.08, became
 law at the conclusion of the 2015 legislative session. The law provides a framework for commercial
 industrial hemp production in Minnesota following approval by the federal government. The Minnesota
 IHDA also provides for the development of a research pilot program administered by MDA under
 Minnesota Statute 18K.09

The following are key provisions of Minnesota Statute 18K:

  • Industrial hemp is defined similarly to federal statute as Cannabis sativa L. that contains no
     more than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • Industrial hemp is defined as an agricultural crop and allows for possession by any commercial producer
    who has successfully obtained a license from MDA and is in compliance with all laws and rules contained
    within the IHDA and ALL FEDERAL LAWS.
  • Directs the commissioner of agriculture to develop a licensing program for commercial industrial hemp production.
  • Requires any commercial grower to provide reports to MDA regarding contracts to grow industrial hemp, seed varieties planted, and records of any sales and the amounts sold or distributed.
  • Directs the commissioner of agriculture to adopt rules governing the production, testing and licensing of industrial hemp.
    • Rulemaking authority governing the IHDA cannot begin under Minnesota State Law until 24 hours after the federal government authorizes the commercial production of industrial hemp in this country. Currently, it is illegal to possess or cultivate industrial hemp under the United States Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Therefore, until the federal government changes the CSA or allows for the Minnesota IHDA to move forward without penalty, MDA cannot authorize any commercial production of industrial hemp in the state.
  • Establishes a pilot program for MDA or researchers at institutions of higher education within the state to study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp, and allows MDA to determine a fee structure for licensing and any other testing or regulating activities as part of this program.
    • Gives the commissioner of agriculture authority to make rules governing the pilot program.
    • The pilot program became active by the commissioner of agriculture’s authorization after these requirements were met:
      • MDA obtained the proper permits and clearance from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). MDA registered with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and obtained a Schedule 1 Narcotic Research import permit in February of 2016. This allows the agency to import certified industrial hemp seed from other countries where hemp is legally grown.
      • MDA developed a process for application, site registration and certification, and also established fees for program participants.

In 2016, there were 6 pilot participants in Minnesota who obtained industrial hemp seed under the umbrella of MDA’s industrial hemp pilot program. It was a historic year, as we saw the harvest of approximately 40 acres of hemp in Minnesota for the first time since the 1950s. Applications are being accepted now through February 24, 2017 for the 2017 growing season. Please check out our FAQ section for Minnesota’s industrial hemp pilot program.



MDA Contact

Margaret Wiatrowski
Industrial Hemp Program Coordinator