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State begins accepting applications for growing industrial hemp

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The state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program will begin accepting applications for licenses to grow the crop, starting today.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture will open the program, to be administered by its Quality Assurance Branch, incrementally, beginning with the June 2018 licensing period, and will issue licenses on a quarterly basis. There is a non-refundable application fee of $500.

“Many believe that industrial hemp can be an important crop in Hawaii,” said Gov. David Ige in a news release. “This pilot program is a strong and prudent step in helping to determine the viability of this crop in Hawaii. The Department of Agriculture has conducted extensive planning and has overcome significant legal obstacles to launch this program.”

The objective of the pilot program, approved through legislation signed by Ige in July 2016 and 2017, is to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaii for agricultural and academic research. The state agriculture department then established the rules for the program, which were approved by its board and signed by Ige in September 2017.

In granting licenses, HDOA will be considering: whether the applicant is licensed to do business in Hawaii, whether the proposed operation is on agriculturally zoned land, a legitimate research plan, a lab provisionally certified or certified by the Hawaii Department of Health to test cannabis.

Each license is valid for two years, as long as the licensee complies with the program rules, plus annual fees of $250 and a $2-per-acre assessment.

Licensed growers will be required to submit extensive reports on planting, harvesting and movement of industrial hemp and should track production costs including pest management, water usage, security measures, labor, marketing and other cost factors. Routine sampling and testing for THC and pesticides and inspections of crops will also be mandatory.

The 11-page application for the program is available on the HDOA website. Questions may be sent to

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