Pennsylvania Readying For Another Big Year Of Hemp

Pennsylvania 2020 hemp season

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s 2020 hemp program began accepting applications from commercial growers and processors last week.

Last year, 324  farmers in the state planted just over 4,000 acres and the Department is hoping for an even busier season in 2020. In 2019, caps on the number of hemp permits and acreage were lifted.

“The re-emergence of hemp in Pennsylvania represents a bounty of opportunity; it’s in our buildings and cars, it’s food and fuel, and it’s power to Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

Unlike last year, processors will need to apply and obtain a permit – but the cost of the permit is a very reasonable $150 (same as for growers.)

There are some new restrictions for the 2020 season, including

  • Outdoor growers will be required to plant and maintain a minimum of 1/4 acre and 300 plants. For indoor growers, the minimum is 2,000 square feet and 200 plants.
  • Hemp can’t be grown or processed within 200 feet of any structure used for residential purposes without first receiving written approval from the Department.
  • Hemp can’t be grown within 1,000 feet of a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school property or a public recreational area.

Some of the new restrictions are probably the result of complaints related to a hemp-processing facility near to a residential area that was closed after repeated air-quality warnings from the state; sparked by a number of complaints from nearby residences concerning odor. The company involved has been fined and granted permission to reopen under a set of restrictions.

Another location restriction remains in place – permit holders are forbidden from planting within 3 miles of a Department of Health licensed medical marijuana grower/processor. The reason for this is to help minimise the risk of cross-pollination, which can impact on the quality of medicinal cannabis plants.

Hemp varieties to be planted in Pennsylvania this year must be listed on the application and the Department is maintaining a “blacklist” containing strains likely to result in hemp above the 0.3 percent legal threshold for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Pennsylvania’s 2020 application period is open until April 1, 2020 and further details can be found here.