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

About 324 farmers in the state planted just over 4,000 acres last year and the department hopes for a busy harvest season in 2020. In 2019, caps on the number of hemp permits and acreage have been lifted.

The re-emergence of hemp in Pennsylvania represents an abundance of opportunity; since it’s in our buildings and cars, it’s food and fuel, and it’s a source of energy for the Pennsylvania economy. Said Agriculture Minister Russell Redding.

Unlike last year, processors will have to apply for and obtain a permit – but the cost of the permit is very reasonable at $150 (as it is for producers).

New Rules

In fact , for the 2020 season, additional restrictions are in place, including

The outdoor farmers must plant and maintain at least 1/4 acre and up to 300 plants. Also , for indoor growers, the minimum is 2,000 square feet and 200 plants.

In adittion , Hemp may not be grown or processed within 200 feet of any structure used for residential purposes without prior written approval from the Department.

Hemp may not be grown within 1,000 feet of a property in a pre-kindergarten to grade 12 school or public recreation area.

Some of the new restrictions are likely the result of complaints about a hemp processing facility near a residential area that was closed after repeated air quality warnings from the state; caused by several odor complaints from neighboring residences. The company concerned was fined and given permission to reopen the plant under a series of restrictions.

Another location restriction remains in place – licensees are not permissible to plant within 3 miles of a medical marijuana grower/processor licensed by the Department of Health. The reason for this is to minimize the risk of cross-pollination, which can impact the quality of medical marijuana plants.

Hemp varieties t for plantation in Pennsylvania this year must be listed on the application and the Department maintains a “blacklist” of strains that are likely to produce hemp above the legal threshold of 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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

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