Now that Hemp is Legal, Do I Need a License to Grow It?


Our summer law clerk, Delanie Wiseman, answers farmers questions about growing industrial hemp in Indiana.


Are you one of the many curious about hemp? Now that hemp is legal in the United States, are you wondering if you need a license to grow it? 

The answer is yes. You will need a license to grow, handle, or supply hemp under Indiana law. 

“Hemp” is from the same cannabaceae family as marijuana. Hemp’s THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the crystalline compound that is the active ingredient of cannabis) level must be no more than 0.3%. Marijuana is classified as anything more than 0.3% under federal law. Other states have different definitions, such as West Virginia, which specifies that hemp must have less than 1% THC. Indiana’s THC limit matches federal law.

Shortly after the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Indiana Legislature passed Senate Bill 516 to allow hemp production in Indiana. The Bill also created the Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee to aid in setting up administrative rules for growing industrial hemp. See Indiana Industrial Hemp Act I.C. § 15-15-13.

Not sure which license you need? There are three types of Indiana licenses for hemp farmers: (1) Grower, (2) Handler, and (3) Researcher. 

If you grow hemp but do not have a license, you will be put under a Stop Sale Order. It is important to use caution—make sure you have your license before growing, transporting, shipping, or processing any hemp or it may be considered marijuana (and therefore be illegal) under Indiana law.

The future is looking bright for growing hemp in 2020. The number of licenses will no longer be limited. However, there will be a cutoff date for outdoor growing, to give the Office of Indiana State Chemist time to process applications and run background checks before suitable outdoor planting dates. 

Applications for a hemp license must include your GPS coordinates and legal description of property used for operation with the acreage size that will include physical inspections twice a year. There are application fees that are specific to the state seed commissioner to include background checks. This background check is required by federal and state law. To obtain a license to grow hemp, you must be 10 years clean of any drug related felony or misdemeanor. 

This post should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific questions about what licenses you need to grow hemp in your area, you should contact an attorney.