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October 20, 2021   /   Andrew Sheaffer

Starting on January 1, 2022 North Carolina’s hemp cultivation will be regulated by the USDA. This means that all hemp growers in North Carolina must obtain a license from the USDA before the end of the year in order to continue to legally grow hemp in the state. 

To make sure the North Carolina hemp community understands this change and has the information they need to obtain a license, we put together this guide to help you through the process. Additionally, you can visit the USDA’s Hemp Production page which contains a wealth of resources and information for hemp growers.

How To Apply for a USDA Hemp License

In North Carolina, the USDA will be in charge of regulating the growing and harvesting of hemp. They will not be regulating the manufacturing, transportation, or the creation of products from hemp. This means that only those who are growing the hemp crop must have a license by January 1, 2022.

Applying to the USDA Hemp program will be done through their new Hemp eManagement Platform (HeMP). This platform will not only allow you to apply for a license, but it will also be where much of your reporting and ongoing management will be done.

There are no licensing fees or application fees under the program. Once you obtain a license, it will be good for 3 years. After 3 years, you will need to re-apply.

Below we detail out the 3-step process for applying for your USDA license:

1 . Create your eAuthentication account using the Hemp eManagement Platform. You can use this link to access the platform.

2 . Obtain a copy of your FBI criminal history report by following the instructions on this link from the FBI’s website. This report will be submitted with your application and is necessary to be approved for a license. The report must be dated within 60 days of your application submission date. Note that this process can take a couple of weeks, so we recommend beginning this process well before submitting your application.

3 . Apply for your license through the Hemp eManagement Platform.

Key Notes on the USDA’s Hemp Regulations

We recommend that all North Carolina hemp growers become familiar with the USDA’s Hemp Production website. This is where the USDA houses their documents and other information on their regulations.

For those who may not be entirely familiar with how the USDA regulates hemp, below are some key points that we think all hemp growers should be familiar with.

Reporting Your Land Area to the Farm Service Agency

All USDA licensees must report the land area where their hemp is planted. Immediately after planting hemp, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and make an appointment to establish your farm record and report your hemp crop acreage.

If you are planting in the fall of 2021 with an anticipated 2022 harvest, these lots must be designated per the USDA’s requirements.

Here is a link to an overview from the USDA that goes into more information about the reporting guidelines.

Hemp Sampling Requirements

In order to stay compliant with the USDA’s guidelines, all hemp crops harvested after January 1, 2022 are subject to the USDA’s sampling and testing requirements. The USDA does not perform the sampling or testing of hemp, so hemp growers are responsible for finding these outsourced resources.

To get samples of your plants taken, growers must identify a sampling agent that is certified by the USDA. Growers are not legally allowed to take their own samples.

This document lists the current sampling agents approved by the USDA, but note that this will change over time as more sampling agents are approved. You can access the most up to date list on the USDA’s Hemp Production website.

Hemp Testing Requirements

Once the sample is taken, growers must identify a lab to test that sample for THC. Growers can use labs that are either in-state or out-of-state, as long as they are registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

This link will provide you with that list of approved testing laboratories.

These labs will test for total THC concentration and report the test results to both you and the USDA. Labs only need to submit the final, official THC level test documentation to the USDA. They don’t need to submit lab reports requested by the grower to monitor the crop during the season.

The samples that are tested and submitted to the USDA must be within 30 days of the harvest.

Hemp Remediation

Growers must remediate crops that test above the 0.3% legal limit. This document has the USDA’s full guidelines for remediation and disposal

When a crop tests hot, it cannot be sold into the market. Instead, there are a couple of options growers can take to comply with the guidelines.

1 . Shred the entire lot into biomass

2 . Separate and remove all flowers from the stalks, seeds and leaves. This option is particularly useful for fiber crops.

One thing the USDA continuously stressed is that they want an open line of communication with North Carolina’s hemp growers. They understand that these changes and new regulations will impact growers differently and result in many questions. They communicated that they want to have common sense solutions and answers that make sense for hemp growers.

If you have any questions or special circumstances you would like to discuss with the USDA, they encourage you to contact them using the following email or phone number.

Phone: 202-720-2491

Email: [email protected]

Regardless of which state you operate in it is important to understand what program your state operates under and what those regulations are. West Town Bank & Trust is also here as a resource for all of our valued hemp customers and the entire hemp community. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us and we will be able to assist you however we can.

About West Town Bank & Trust

At West Town Bank & Trust, our most important goal is to understand what’s important to you, what’s getting in your way, and what you hope to achieve, so we can help you get there. Since 1922, we’ve been creating long-lasting relationships with our customers based on old-fashioned values and future-thinking ideas.  Whether solutions come from surprisingly innovative tools or trusted products you’re familiar with, our single-focused purpose is your financial well-being.

Some banks aren’t willing to bank hemp-related businesses. At West Town Bank & Trust, we don’t just bank hemp, we embrace it.  We are a hemp friendly bank and have done a tremendous amount of diligence concerning hemp rules and regulations and have written a compliance program to make sure our clients operate within compliance.  If you’re in a hemp-related business and need a bank that understands your needs and your industry, we’re ready to help you bank hemp safely.