Q&A: Oregon’s new industrial hemp law

By Oregon Department of Agriculture,

Senate Bill 676, passed by the 2009 Oregon Legislature, permits production and possession of industrial hemp and trade in industrial hemp commodities and products.

What is industrial hemp?
Industrial hemp includes a number of varieties of Cannabis sativa L. that are intended for agricultural and industrial purposes. These varieties are grown for their seed and fiber content, as well as byproducts such as oil and seed cake. Industrial hemp is low in the hallucinogenic compound delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high in cannabidiol (CBD).

Is industrial hemp the same as marijuana?
No. Both are varieties of Cannabis sativa L., but marijuana is high in THC and low in CBD.

What is industrial hemp used for?
Industrial hemp is primarily grown as a source of fiber principally used for textiles, rope, paper, and building materials. Hemp seed is increasingly used for food, feed, and oil. Hemp seed oil is low in saturated fats and may be used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, inks, lubrication, household detergents, varnishes, resins, and paints. As the biofuels industry matures, industrial hemp may play a role in cellulosic ethanol production.

Can industrial hemp legally be grown in Oregon at this time?
No. Even though Senate Bill 676, passed by the 2009 Oregon Legislature and signed into law, allows for the production and sale of industrial hemp in Oregon, the state needs to wait for the federal allowance before proceeding.

Now that the Governor has signed SB 676 into law, what is the status of a state program to oversee industrial hemp production in Oregon?
The law sets up a process for the Oregon Department of Agriculture to establish rules for production of industrial hemp once the federal prohibition is lifted. If and when the federal government lifts the ban, ODA will begin working with industry representatives and interested individuals to draft rules that will implement a state program. There is no way of knowing when that might take place.

Why is it necessary to have special rules regarding the production and sale of industrial hemp?
SB 676 clearly specifies industrial hemp as an agricultural product subject to regulation by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The specific regulations and requirements have not been established yet and that process will not begin until the federal prohibition is lifted.

What is ODA doing in the meantime while waiting for any federal status change?
ODA is developing a list of interested individuals who would like to be kept informed on new developments regarding industrial hemp production and sale in Oregon. This electronic list will be used to share administrative information via e-mail as it becomes available. Anyone interested can subscribe to the listserv at any time.

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