Kansas hemp farmers harvesting first-year crop
LEAVENWORTH COUNTY, Kan. — It’s an historic moment for many Kansas farmers as they harvest what could become the state’s most budding industry — hemp.
The farmers growing it hope to reap the rewards soon, but that means the clock is ticking at the Heartland Hemp Farm in Leavenworth County.
“We’re on a 10-day time schedule,” Heartland Hemp Farm Master Grower J. Bradley said. “We don’t want to be over the THC threshold, so we just cut it down.”
The first-time farmers are harvesting the state’s first crop of industrial hemp before the first frost.
“We’ve been doing it all by hand,” Heartland Hemp Farm Chief Operating Officer Todd Schuler said. “We’ve got some big cutters and some of the stocks on these plants are pretty thick.”
The trio of business partners took the plunge together to be among the first participants in Kansas Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Research program.
According to the Department of Agriculture, 99% of the industrial hemp in the state is field-grown, while only 1% is grown in greenhouses and high tunnels.
“The producers who are involved with the research program are learning what works and what doesn’t,” Jeff Vogel, program manager of plant protection and weed control at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, said.
The state recently released a breakdown, updating the KDA’s Indusutrial Hemp Research Program.
While growing the crop is part science project, it still could be lucrative for the 260 active license holders in the state.
Currently, hemp farmers can earn three to four times more per acre compared to traditional crops.
Industrial hemp is the key ingredient for CBD products. It also can used in food, cosmetics, fabrics and construction materials.
But contrary to popular belief, hemp is not marijuana.
“One of our field inspectors will come out and inspect the field take a sample and take that sample to our KDA laboratory,” Vogel said. “At that lab, we’ll conduct a quantitative test to measure the level of THC in the plan to make sure that it is 0.3% or below and make sure that it’s industrial hemp.”
Heartland Hemp Farm characterizes this year as a learning experience, especially since the weather didn’t cooperate.
“Once we got them in the ground, then we didn’t get any rain the month of July,” Schuler said. “We were out here watering every other day once we had the FULL crop in the ground.”
Those efforts are helping the state of Kansas grow in the field of industrial hemp.
The deadline to apply for a license for next year is Nov. 30.Midwesterners got their first taste of falling temperatures this week. The cooler temperatures are a sign to industrial hemp farmers in Kansas it’s time to harvest their crop.
Is CBD oil legal in Kansas?
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- What is CBD?
- Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
- Kansas CBD laws
- Licensing requirements for CBD
- Where to buy CBD in Kansas
- How to read CBD labels and packaging
Yes, but cannabidiol (CBD) oil must be produced from hemp licensed by the state and contain no THC, under the terms of a 2018 law.
When the 2018 Farm Bill became law, it redefined hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed CBD and hemp products from their former status as a Schedule 1 substance. While this step was a significant step toward cannabis legalization, the Farm Bill caused confusion at the state level, particularly for Kansas residents who had limited access to CBD products before the law was enacted.
Kansas has its own Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, which the Farm Bill helps support. Kansas consumers still can purchase CBD products but they must meet strict requirements while the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) drafts additional rules for a regulated hemp industry.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid found in cannabis and the second-most-abundant compound in the plant after THC. A non-intoxicating substance, CBD shows potential therapeutic benefits including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and seizure-suppression properties. CBD can be derived from the hemp and marijuana plant.
Why is CBD sometimes illegal?
Even though industrial hemp doesn’t produce enough THC to intoxicate consumers, all varieties of cannabis, including hemp, were swept into the category of Schedule 1 under the 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act. The law defined cannabis as a substance with no accepted medical use, a likelihood for addiction, and a high potential for abuse.
In 2018, Congress passed the Farm Bill and legalized hemp cultivation by removing it from Schedule 1. The Farm Bill defined hemp as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight and marijuana as cannabis with more than 0.3% THC. Hemp-derived CBD was thus removed from its Schedule 1 designation, but CBD derived from the marijuana plant is still considered federally illegal because of marijuana’s federally illegal status. Hemp is considered an agricultural commodity, but still must be produced and sold under specific federal regulations, which were not finalized when hemp was legalized.
The Farm Bill also endowed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the ability to regulate CBD’s labeling, therapeutic claims, and presence in foods or drinks. Despite the Farm Bill’s passage, the FDA has issued a directive that no CBD, even hemp-derived, may be added to food or beverages or marketed as a dietary supplement. The FDA has begun re-evaluating that stance on CBD products but has yet to revise rules or specifically regulate CBD products.
A bottle of CBD oil. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
The FDA’s slow movement has created further confusion on the state level. The FDA has historically been strict when it comes to health claims or content that could be understood as medical advice — and makes no exception for CBD.
Hemp production and sale, including its cannabinoids and CBD specifically, remain tightly regulated federally. The Farm Bill provides that individual states may also regulate and even prohibit CBD cultivation and commerce. States may attempt to regulate CBD in food, beverage, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products independently of the FDA’s rules. Kansas has an existing industrial hemp pilot program and is in the early phases of drafting hemp regulations to be submitted to the USDA for approval.
Kansas CBD laws
In April 2018, Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer signed SB 263 into law, known as the Alternative Crop Research Act. This law came about in the wake of the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed states to launch independent pilot programs to research the viability of hemp as a crop. The KDA launched the program in partnership with Kansas’ public universities to license farmers to grow hemp that contained no more than 0.3% THC. The KDA published regulations for the Industrial Hemp Research Program on February 8, 2019.
Shortly after SB 263 passed, Colyer also signed SB 282 on May 24, 2018, which amended the definition of marijuana to exempt CBD. The law broadly legalized Kansas CBD products, but the requirement that they contain zero THC has complicated access to CBD because most products contain at least trace amounts of THC.
On May 21, 2019, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly signed SB 28 into law, also known as Claire and Lola’s Law, which prohibits child removal or child protection actions by providing an affirmative defense for parents or children who possess physician-recommended medical cannabis oil. The cannabis oil can contain no more than 5% THC and must have a lab test to prove its cannabinoid content. However, cannabis oil with any amount of THC cannot be purchased in Kansas, so patients currently have no access to cannabis for medical use.
After the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Kelly signed HB 2167 into law, which legalized the creation of a Kansas Industrial Hemp Program. To date, the only acceptable CBD products are those that have zero THC and all hemp cultivation must be licensed by the KDA.
Licensing requirements for CBD
The KDA oversees and licenses participants in the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, including research distributors, growers, and processors. Applicants undergo comprehensive background checks to enroll in the program and must pay a non-refundable $200 application fee before their license is approved. Individuals convicted of felonies involving controlled substances are ineligible for participation.
The KDA is drafting regulations for the Kansas Industrial Hemp Program.
All CBD products sold in Kansas must be labeled by the manufacturer and seller to include a list and description of all contents, statement of CBD purity, and a warning that the consumption of CBD could be hazardous to the user’s health.
CBD oil usually comes with a dropper to allow consumers and patients to measure out their dose. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Participants in the Industrial Hemp Research Program must pay $47 per hour for an initial sample collection, and a testing fee of $250 for each lab test. The test is to determine the THC content in the crop. If the sample contains more than 0.3% THC per weight, the plants in the growing area must be destroyed.
There are no sale requirements for CBD that match Kansas’ legal definition of zero THC.
The conviction for sales of cannabis that contains any THC is a felony punished by tiers of fines and/or incarceration. The sale of fewer than 25 grams, or 0.88 ounces, can carry a sentence of up to 51 months in prison and a $300,000 fine. The sale of 25-449 grams, or 0.88 ounces to 1 pound, carries a sentence up to 83 months in prison and a $300,000 fine. The sale of 450 grams to 30 kilograms, or 1 to 66 pounds, is punishable by up to 12 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. The sale of any amount greater than 30 kilograms, or 66 pounds, can earn up to 17 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
The sale of any amount of cannabis near a school can earn up to seven years in prison and a $300,000 fine.
The cultivation of any hemp or cannabis is illegal outside of participation in the Kansas Industrial Hemp Program.
The cultivation of 4-50 plants is a felony, earning up to 83 months incarceration and up to $300,000 in fines. Anywhere 50-100 plants can earn up to 83 months in prison and a $300,000 fine, and any amount greater than 100 plants earns up to 204 months in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Kansas CBD possession limits
Kansas CBD laws permit citizens to purchase and possess CBD products that contain zero THC. CBD products can be sold as oils, powders, pills, and lotions. It is a crime to possess any amount of cannabis with trace amounts of THC beside CBD, though state legislators have relaxed possession penalties in recent years.
The possession of any amount of cannabis is a misdemeanor, punishable by either a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. Subsequent offenses are felonies, punishable by up to 3 1/2 years in prison with potential fines up to $100,000. Possession with intent to distribute comes with more severe criminal penalties.
Where to buy CBD in Kansas
Kansas consumers can purchase CBD products at brick-and-mortar shops and through online retailers. Typically, Kansas citizens will find CBD products at specialty retailers and health and wellness grocers or pharmacies.
Kansas buyers also can purchase CBD products online, typically through a specific retailer’s website. However, some merchant processing companies consider CBD a restricted business and don’t support its sale. Confirm which checkout system a retailer uses before purchasing CBD online.
How to read CBD labels and packaging
Some companies are taking advantage of the FDA’s slow pace to issue regulatory requirements and are labeling their products with buzzwords such as “natural” or health claims. How a product is marketed and labeled is important in determining its legality in Kansas or nationally. CBD products making any health claims or promising medical benefits violate FDA rules.
Kansas law stipulates that CBD products should clearly show a list and description of all contents, statement of CBD purity, and a warning that the consumption of CBD could be hazardous to the user’s health. CBD products must also clearly state what kind of CBD is used because only broad-spectrum CBD (extract with THC removed) and CBD isolate (pure CBD powder) contain no traces of THC. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains trace amounts of cannabinoids and therefore is illegal in Kansas.
Kansas consumers should check for the following on CBD product labels:
- Broad-spectrum, or isolate
- Amount of active CBD per serving
- Net weight
- Suggested use
- Supplemental Facts label, including other ingredients
- Manufacturer/distributor name
- Batch or date code