Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is hemp?
A: Hemp is a multi-purpose agricultural crop delivering seeds, fibers and bio-active chemicals for a number of uses and markets. Hemp is defined in federal and Montana statute as Cannabis sativa L. that contains no greater than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp is authorized as an alternative agricultural crop by the Montana Legislature, Section 80-18-101 through 80-18-111 of Montana Code Annotated. Hemp and marijuana are the same species of plant and may look very similar under similar growing conditions.
Q: What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
A: Hemp and marijuana are varieties of the same plant, Cannabis sativa L., that have developed due to selective breeding. The plant family Cannabaceae, that contains both hemp and marijuana, also includes the hops plant which is used in the brewing process. By both federal and state law, hemp must contain no greater than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) on a dry weight basis.
|Bred for its fiber and seed oil
||Bred for its psychoactive properties (THC)
Q: What is THC?
A: THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol and is the component of marijuana that has psychoactive properties.
Q: Can hemp get you “high?”
A: No, hemp has very low levels of THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. Hemp is required by law to have no greater than 0.3% THC. Current marijuana Cannabis varieties are between 10-30% THC.
Q: Can hemp be certified as organic?
A: Yes, guidelines issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on August 23, 2016, authorize hemp to be certified as organic. Hemp must follow the same requirements (Click here for more on Organic Certification in Montana) as other crops certified in accordance with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). More information on organic certification for hemp is available from USDA AMS by clicking here.
Q: Is federal funding available for University researchers to study hemp?
A: Yes, new guidelines issued from the federal government, through USDA’s National Institute of Feed and Agriculture (NIFA), clarify how universities and colleges may be able to apply for federal funding to study hemp agriculture. More information on this topic can be found by visiting: https://nifa.usda.gov/industrial-hemp.
Q: Do I still need a license now that the president has signed the new Farm Bill to legalize hemp?
A: Yes. The 2018 Farm Bill hemp provisions transferred regulatory authority from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA guidelines still require licensing of hemp growers and hemp growing locations by USDA, Tribal Sovereign Nation, State Department of Agriculture or University. In Montana, the State Department of Agriculture issues licenses for growing hemp under the authority in 80-18-101 through 80-18-111, MCA.
Q: Do I need to be a Montana resident to apply for a hemp license?
A: No, applicants are not required to be residents of Montana.
Q: If I was licensed last year, do I need to get a background check done for 2020?
A: Only new applicants are subject to a background check. Licensees who were previously licensed are not required to submit a Background Check in 2020. Hemp program participation requires no felony drug charges in the previous ten years.
Q: Can I plant hemp clones?
A: Yes, the approval process for clones of hemp plants is the same as for seed of new hemp varieties. Additionally, approval of clones may be subject to standards like those of other National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) crops propagated from plant cutting, grafting, or division.
Q: Can I grow hemp on land that I lease?
A: Yes, but the landowner’s signature is required on the Planting Report in the second stage of licensing.
Q: Are there any limits on the number of growers that can participate or acres that can be grown?
A: No minimum or maximum field sizes are being considered at this time. Before determining the size of your hemp crop, you may consider researching hemp processors and markets to avoid growing more hemp than can be sold. A list of licensed processors in Montana can be found at https://agr.mt.gov/HempProcessors.
Q: Can I sell CBD oil in Montana?
A: The Montana Department of Agriculture does not regulate the production or sale of food, drugs, health supplements, or cosmetics. A recent FDA Statement, from December 20, 2018, on Cannabis products can be found here: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm628988.htm.
Q: Why do I see CBD oil for sale in Montana retail stores?
A: The Montana Department of Agriculture does not regulate the production or sale of food, drugs, health supplements, or cosmetics. The FDA states, “When a product is in violation of the FD&C Act, FDA considers many factors in deciding whether or not to initiate an enforcement action. Those factors include, among other things, agency resources and the threat to the public health. FDA also may consult with its federal and state partners in making decisions about whether to initiate a federal enforcement action.” A recent FDA statement, from December 20, 2018, on Cannabis products can be found here: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm628988.htm.
Q: Where can I purchase hemp seed?
A: There are several international and US-based seed companies that sell certified hemp seed. Montana Department of Agriculture does not have a list of all current hemp seed companies in the world. Growers are encouraged to do extensive research and required to purchase only from licensed seed dealers.
Q: Do I need a different license to sell hemp seed in Montana?
A: Yes, all entities that sell agricultural seed in Montana are required to follow the requirements of the Montana Seed Act. At a minimum, hemp seed sellers must have a Montana Seed Labeler license. More information about the seed program and licensing requirements are available on the Montana Department of Agriculture's Seed Program web page at: https://agr.mt.gov/Topics/Seed.
Q: Can I plant seeds from another US state?
A: Yes, licensees can plant any seed reasonably believed to produce hemp. Seed varieties not previously grown in Montana or ASOCA/OECD certified are considered category C varieties and are grown at the licensee’s own risk. All category C varieties are required to be tested for Total THC three weeks prior to harvest.
Q: Can I feed hemp to my animals? / Can I make hemp pet treats and sell them at the farmers market?
A: No, hemp is not an approved commercial feed ingredient under the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) regulations. Hemp cannot be manufactured into any commercial animal feed including pet foods and specialty pet foods, including complete feed, treats, and snacks. Unprocessed hemp seed and other plant parts may be fed to animals as forage. Contact the Montana Department of Agriculture Feed Program with questions about feeding hemp products to animals: https://agr.mt.gov/Topics/Feed.
Q: Can I make hemp food products and sell them for human consumption in Montana?
A: The Montana Department of Agriculture does not regulate the production or sale of food, drugs, health supplements, or cosmetics. Hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein, and hemp seed oil have been granted Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status by the FDA and are widely available in products at retail stores across Montana. A recent FDA statement, from December 20, 2018, on Cannabis products can be found here: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm628988.htm.