Interested in growing hemp in 2019? You have until Dec. 31 to apply for a license

MILWAUKEE -- Those interested in applying for a license to grow hemp during the 2019 growing season in Wisconsin have until Dec. 31 to apply.

According to a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, about 240 growers and 100 processors were licensed in 2018, the first growing season in Wisconsin, and of those, about 125 growers planted a crop. Officials noted that our cold, rainy spring made planting conditions difficult, but despite that, growers planted about 1,850 acres in fields, and almost 23 acres in greenhouses.

Anyone who wants to grow or process industrial hemp  must obtain a license from the DATCP and register. Industrial hemp can contain no more than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive ingredient present in marijuana.

You must also pass a background check with no state or federal drug convictions.

Growers must pay a one-time licensing fee of $150 to $1,000 depending on how many acres they intent to plant. Processors also need a one-time license at no cost. The annual registration fee is $350 for growers and $100 for processors.

You must also file a research plan and meet reporting and record-keeping requirements, and have your crops sampled for THC levels.

If you received a license in 2018, you won't need a new license, but you will have to register if you plan to grow or process in 2019.

Congress included a provision in the 2014 farm bill to allow states to conduct research pilot programs into industrial hemp production, if authorized by their legislatures. The Wisconsin Legislature passed a law in November 2017 that directed DATCP to set up such a program. It is operating under an emergency administrative rule. DATCP staff are working on a permanent rule that will take effect by July 2020.

Industrial hemp was a major crop in Wisconsin in the first half of the 20th Century, mainly harvested for its fiber to make rope. Hemp products today are very diverse, and are available in the United States, but have been largely made from hemp produced in other nations.

CLICK HERE to apply for a license.