Oregon Hemp Overview

What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a versatile cannabis plant used for decades to make fabric, paper, and fuel. Although it is a member of the cannabis plant family, it is not the same as marijuana. Hemp is a cannabis strain with very low amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive chemical that causes the "high" associated with marijuana. In contrast, marijuana includes a high concentration of THC and a low concentration of CBD (cannabidiol).

The quantity of THC is the primary distinction between hemp and marijuana. Hemp is officially recognized in the United States as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight, whereas marijuana has THC levels greater than 0.3%. Physically, the hemp plant is taller and skinnier than the typical marijuana plant, with fewer branches and a more fibrous stem.

Despite its differences from marijuana, hemp has long faced legal restrictions as a result of its association with cannabis. However, due to growing recognition of its potential benefits, the legalization of hemp and hemp-derived products has gained traction in recent years due to its recognized use for industrial purposes.

Industrial hemp is a kind of hemp produced for uses such as fiber and seed production. In most industrial use cases, industrial hemp is cultivated in large fields and harvested mechanically. It is also tested extensively to ensure that it satisfies the legal definition of hemp (contains no more than 0.3% THC).

Hemp seed, hemp flower, and hemp extract are all obtained from different parts of the hemp plant, each with its own qualities and applications. Hemp seed is a little brown seed high in protein, fiber, and good fats. It can be consumed raw, roasted, or crushed into flour for baking or cooking. Hemp seed oil and hemp milk are also made from hemp seed.

The buds of the hemp plant are referred to as hemp flowers. CBD and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are among the substances found in these buds. Hemp flower can be smoked, vaporized, or used in the production of foods, tinctures, and other goods.

Hemp extract is a concentrated version of the chemicals present in hemp flowers. Hemp extract is widely used for its therapeutic benefits, including pain and inflammation relief, improved sleep, and reduced anxiety and depression.

Hemp oil is a form of oil obtained from the hemp plant's seeds. Hemp oil is high in fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and is frequently used as a nutritional supplement or in cooking and baking. Because of its hydrating and anti-inflammatory characteristics, hemp oil is also used in skincare products.

Hemp hearts, also known as hulled hemp seeds, are the interior, soft portion of the hemp seed that has been stripped of its outer shell. Hemp hearts are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber and may be eaten raw, cooked, or used to bake.

Hemp milk is milk derived from hemp seeds. Hemp milk is high in protein, healthy fats, and critical vitamins and minerals, making it a popular lactose-free or vegan alternative to dairy milk.



Is Hemp Legal in Oregon?

Yes. The history of hemp legislation in the United States can be traced to the ban on cannabis in the 1930s. However, the United States Farm Bill, which is amended every few years to accommodate changing agricultural and economic situations, is one of the most important pieces of federal hemp law.

President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law, which contained a provision allowing hemp cultivation for research purposes in areas where it was legal. This statute classified hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. The 2018 Farm Bill, which President Trump signed into law, was a watershed moment for the hemp sector since it removed hemp from the list of controlled drugs and authorized its production and sale on a federal level. The 2018 Farm Bill also defines hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight and permits the manufacturing and sale of hemp-derived products, such as CBD oil, as long as they meet federal rules.

Prior to the 2014 Farm Bill, Oregon authorized the possession and production of industrial hemp in 2009 with the approval of Senate Bill 676. However, the Oregon Department of Agriculture's first published set of rules for the state's hemp program did not go into effect until February 2015, following the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) was tasked with regulating the production and handling of hemp, including growers and handlers engaged in the production of hemp. Under the state hemp program, an individual or entity may only produce or process hemp or hemp seeds if registered with the ODA (with an exception for homegrown plants for personal use)

The 2018 Farm Bill requires the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to implement regulations and create a program to oversee commercial hemp federally. However, the bill requires states to submit hemp program plans for approval to become the regulatory authority over hemp production in their jurisdictions. The Oregon State Hemp Plan was approved by the USDA in 2022. Under the plan, the ODA continues to administer hemp activities in the state.

Oregon residents may cultivate and process hemp on their land if they receive the relevant permits and follow state rules. However, the amount of hemp that can be grown for personal use is limited, and residents must follow strict guidelines for hemp cultivation, harvesting, and processing. The state also permits interstate movement of hemp and hemp products as long as they adhere to federal and state standards.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Oregon?

Oregon laws permit the sale of hemp grain products, hemp fiber products, and certain cannabinoid hemp products. However, a new rule created by the state liquor and cannabis commission (OLCC) bans the sales of artificially derived cannabinoids. Artificially derived cannabinoids are compounds made by inducing chemical changes in natural CBD extracted from hemp. Hence, the sales of Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, HHC, THC-O, and THC-P products are illegal in the state. Note that the law does not prohibit CBD, which may be naturally extracted from hemp without any chemical processing.

Note that Oregon's HB 3000 restricts the sale of specific consumable hemp products to persons under the age of 21. A consumable hemp item is any hemp product that may be made to be eaten, drunk, or inhaled. A hemp item is required to have lower than 0.5 milligrams by weight of total THC to be sold to a minor. Note that the 0.3% THC level does not account for the weight of the item. Under state law, the following must be sold as adult-use cannabis items:

  • Hemp items with more than 0.5 milligrams of THC or THCA, including Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC
  • Hemp item where the testing was not sensitive enough to determine whether there are less than 0.5 milligrams of THC in the item
  • Hemp item that advertises intoxicating effects

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Oregon?

The Oregon legislature enacted Senate Bill 1564, authorizing counties to establish hemp moratoriums within their borders. Hence, Oregon counties can restrict hemp operations inside their jurisdictions. According to Section 1(2)(b) of SB 1564, counties that want to impose a hemp moratorium must declare a state of emergency that includes:

  • The duration of the declaration; and
  • A statement that imposing a moratorium in the jurisdiction will alleviate the conditions that prompted the declaration

How to Get a License to Grow or Process in Oregon

If you grow, harvest, and dry hemp in Oregon, you must apply for and obtain a hemp grower license from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). All hemp grower licenses in Oregon expire on December 31 of the calendar year. The ODA requires all new hemp license grower applications or renewals to be received by May 31 of the year applicants intend to grow. Note that persons intending to grow hemp for search are expected to apply for the hemp research grower license. Such persons must submit their applications with research and destruction plans for review prior to the approval of their applications.

The ODA also issues licenses hemp handler licenses to persons who:

  • Receive industrial hemp for processing into industrial hemp commodities, products, or agricultural hemp seed or
  • Receive industrial hemp commodities or products for processing into hemp items

Hemp laws in Oregon require hemp grower applicants to complete background checks, including fingerprinting. All key participants must complete a background check which includes fingerprinting. Only applicants with no felony drug convictions in the previous 10 years preceding the application year may be eligible to receive a hemp grower license in the state.

To apply for a hemp license, complete the Hemp Grower/Grow Site License Application Form, Hemp Grower Research License Application Form, or the Hemp Handler License Application Form. Follow the instructions on the application form, and provide the relevant supporting documentation and license fee. You may pay the license fee using a check, money order, or credit card. For checks or money orders, mail (USPS only) to:

Oregon Department of Agriculture

P.O. Box 4395, Unit 17

Portland, OR 97208-4395

For credit card charges, mail or fax to:

Oregon Department of Agriculture

635 Capitol St. NE, Suite 100

Salem, OR 97301-2532

Secure Fax: (503) 986-4746

Note that credit card information is not expected to be emailed to the address above. Also, if you are paying via check, make it payable to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. All dishonored checks or electronic payments will incur a $25 administrative fee in accordance with ORS 30.701.

If your application was successfully submitted to ODA, you will get an email with instructions on the next steps. If you do not receive the email notification, contact the hemp program at:

635 Capitol Street NE

Salem, OR 97301

Phone: (503) 986-4652

Fax: (503) 986-4786

Email: hemp@oda.oregon.gov

For more information on hemp licenses in Oregon, check the hemp grower license, hemp handler license, and hemp program pages of the ODA website.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Oregon?

The following are the costs associated with hemp licenses in Oregon:

  • Hemp Grower License/Grow Site Licenses
    • Hemp Grower License: $350
    • Hemp Grow Site License: $875
    • Key Participant Fee: $75/key participant
  • Hemp Grower Research License
    • Hemp Grower License: $350
    • Key Participant Fee: $75/key participant
  • Hemp Handler License
    • Hemp Handler License: $2,275
    • Hemp Handler Reciprocity License (Reciprocity licenses only apply to marijuana processors with a hemp endorsement): $875

Note that Oregon hemp licenses are valid for one year beginning January 1 and ending December 31. Also, fees are not pro-rated and are non-refundable.

How to Grow Hemp in Oregon

Growing hemp in Oregon requires specific cultivation steps to ensure good crop yields. You may follow the steps below to cultivate hemp in the state:

  • Soil testing: Before planting, soil testing is required to determine the nutrient content, pH, and potential contaminants in the soil. You need a well-draining soil high in organic matter to have healthy crops
  • Seed selection: Choose high-quality hemp seeds that are certified to meet Oregon’s standards for THC levels. You may search online to find reputable seed sellers in the state
  • Planting: Hemp seeds should be planted between 0.75 and 1.25 inches deep and should be planted late in the spring at a rate of approximately 25-35 pounds per acre. Seedlings should be spaced 4-5 inches apart
  • Irrigation: Hemp plants require regular watering to ensure healthy growth. Irrigation should be scheduled according to the plant’s growth stage, with more water required during the flowering stage
  • Fertilization: Hemp plants require a balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Organic fertilizers may be preferred and should be applied at appropriate intervals
  • Pest control: Hemp plants can be susceptible to various pests, including spider mites, aphids, and hemp russet mites. To control pests, it is recommended that you use only Oregon-certified pesticides. You can find pesticides approved in the state on the guide list provided on the ODA website

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Oregon?

Yes, Oregon allows residents to purchase cannabinoid hemp products, including smokable hemp flowers. No state license is required to sell cannabinoid hemp products; therefore, you may be able to buy smokable hemp flowers at local stores in your area and from online retailers. There are no limits on the quantity of smokable hemp flowers that may be purchased in Oregon. The state also allows smokable hemp flowers to be shipped into its municipalities as long as such products do not contain more than 0.3% THC.

Hemp vs. THC

Hemp is a strain of the cannabis plant, while THC is a compound found in cannabis plants, although more commonly found in marijuana plants. Hemp plants have low concentrations of THC (0.3% or less) - the psychoactive compound in cannabis. It is legal to sell hemp-derived THC products in Oregon, provided state laws concerning such sales are not violated. For example, a product may only be sold to minors if:

  • It has less than 0.5 mg total THC in the entire unit of sale
  • The compliance test was sensitive enough to demonstrate that the product contains lower than 0.5 mg of total THC
  • The product contains no artificially derived cannabinoids (such as Delta-8 THC made synthetically from CBD)

Also, the state stipulates certain limits on the amount of THC present in cannabinoid products that may be sold to adults. In addition to the 0.3% limit on total THC:

  • Hemp tincture products are limited to 100 mg of total THC per container
  • Hemp edible products are limited to 2 mg of total THC per serving and 20 mg of total THC per unit of sale

Hemp-derived THC products exceeding these limits by more than 10% may only be sold within the OLCC-licensed marijuana system in the state.

Hemp vs. CBD

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant, which contains high levels of CBD. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound with potential therapeutic benefits, such as reducing anxiety, inflammation, and seizures. CBD is typically extracted from hemp, but it can also be extracted from marijuana, which is a cannabis strain with higher levels of THC. Hemp-derived CBD products are legal as long as they are not artificially derived and contain no more than 0.3% THC.

Hemp Applications

Hemp may be used in the following applications:

  • Fiber: Hemp fibers are popular for their strength and durability, making them useful for a variety of textiles, including clothing, shoes, and bags
  • Paper: Hemp can be used to make paper products, such as books, magazines, and packaging materials. Papers made from hemp require fewer chemicals and less water to produce than traditional paper made from trees, making them more environmentally friendly
  • Building materials: Hemp fibers can be mixed with lime to create a lightweight, durable building material known as hempcrete. Hemp fibers can also be used to create insulation, roofing materials, and other construction products
  • Biofuels: Hemp seeds can be used to produce biodiesel and other biofuels, which are renewable alternatives to fossil fuels
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