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The state Hemp Program in Pennsylvania has had tremendous growth as of late. In 2016, the state started out with 15 growers under its Pilot Program. Then during the 2019 season, there were 324 permit holders who planted hemp crops across 4,000 acres of land. This is a drastic increase and shows the state’s commitment to expanding its agricultural opportunities and growing hemp flower in Pennsylvania.
Since the state has a robust Hemp Program and approves the use of hemp-derived CBD products, that makes hemp flower legal too. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about the history of hemp, Pennsylvania’s CBD laws, and some of the must-know points about buying and smoking hemp flower.
Pennsylvania hemp laws
A few years after the 2014 Farm Bill went into effect, the Governor of Pennsylvania signed House Bill 987 on July 20, 2016. The federal Farm Bill allowed universities, colleges, and agencies, like the state Department of Agriculture, to grow hemp for research purposes. This was a huge deal because it was illegal for more than seven decades to grow industrial hemp in the United States.
Some of the states in the U.S. took immediate advantage of this opportunity, while some haven’t planted a single seed in their state. But, this article is about Pennsylvania, so let’s stick to them for now. A few months after passing H.B. 987, the state issued 14 permits to universities and agencies so they could research the hemp plant.
The research included finding out the ideal growing conditions, best soil type, potential pest and disease issues, time from seed to harvest, and much more. In essence, the goal was to see how the plant would fare in U.S. agriculture. And not only as a cash crop but as a health and wellness product. The area of interest here was CBD, which the hemp flower produces a lot of.
After a few years of researching the plant in 2017 and 2018, an updated and more comprehensive Farm Bill became law at the end of 2018. This Bill, referred to as the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, opened the floodgates, sorta speak, for farmers and businesses around the country.
This Bill has two powerful pieces of legislation. First, it removed hemp from the definition of marijuana. Which meant, hemp was no longer classified as an illegal drug under federal law. Second, the Bill made commercial farming of industrial hemp possible for any state interested.
So, starting in 2019 the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) created an application process for those who wanted to grow hemp. Each person would need a permit to legally grow in the state. Let’s take a look at some of the most up to date requirements to apply and qualify for grower and processor permits.
Application process & requirements
To apply for a hemp growers and processors permit, each person must complete an application and pay $150. Also, anyone who wants to sell hemp seeds or plants requires a special license. And finally, those planning to make hemp-based food products must register with the PDAs Bureau of Food Safety.
To give you an idea of the requirements to grow and process hemp in the state of Pennsylvania, here are some of the most pertinent details.
- Individuals or businesses that want to apply must either own or lease the land or commercial space to grow and process.
- Those growing outdoors must plant on a minimum of 0.25 acres with 300 or more plants.
- Those growing indoors must have a minimum space of 2,000 square feet with 200 or more plants.
- These indoor spaces and outdoor fields cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school (K-12) or a public recreation area.
- All key participants in the business of growing or processing hemp must pass an FBI background check.
- The applicant must list the hemp varieties he or she wants to grow, and ultimately get approved by the PDA.
- THC testing must occur within 15 days of the harvest date. If the THC levels exceed 0.3%, the crops may get destroyed.
These are some of the main rules for applying, but the full application will include every single detail and requirement.
Pennsylvania state CBD laws
We covered the laws about hemp legalities in the state, but how does that relate to the CBD laws? This question is important because hemp and CBD are connected, but have some subtleties. For instance, hemp seeds and hemp fiber, which comes from the stalks, don’t contain cannabidiol. However, the flower buds and small sugar leaves around the bud, do.
Some farmers may decide to grow the plants for industrial use to make clothes, paper, plastics, ropes, fuel, or tons of other uses. Yes, the hemp plant is that versatile in its uses. There are thousands of uses for hemp, in fact. Others may choose to process the hemp seeds into protein powder, or hemp seed oil, or another type of wellness product.
Then there are those processors who want to make hemp-based CBD products. In this case, the rules get a little more strict. For one, before any hemp flower in Pennsylvania gets harvested, the crops must have their THC levels tested. This means, before the hemp reaches the hands of the processors, the state wants to ensure the THC content is less than 0.3%.
This is a requirement under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 and under the Pennsylvania Hemp Program. To add an extra layer of assurance, most CBD companies provide lab testing reports (i.e. COAs) to prove the THC levels in their organic CBD nugs, tinctures, edibles, capsules, etc. have less than the legal limit of tetrahydrocannabinol.
Making sure the CBD product meets these laws is vital and necessary before being legally sold. And the state does a good job of this.
Is CBD flower legal in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can buy CBD flower in Pennsylvania. It’s legal to do so when the flower strain you select has THC levels that are compliant with federal and state laws. Although hemp flower buds are legal to buy and consume, there are laws about smoking in public.
You cannot smoke CBD buds in a public area or near a school. In other words, your only choice is to smoke in a private space where you feel comfortable, whether that’s at home or at a friend’s house.
It might take some time before law enforcement and the state government get more creative with this law. For now, the hemp plant resembles marijuana too much, which is still illegal at the federal level and illegal for recreational use in Pennsylvania.
Although medical use is legal under the Medical Marijuana Act, the law for medical consumers is the same as hemp consumers — no smoking in public.
For some of you, this may not matter. You might prefer to infuse your premium hemp flower buds in oil so you can add it to your tea, in baking recipes, or homemade topical creams. No matter what you choose, there are some great strains to try out.
What are the best CBD strains to buy?
With the rise in CBD popularity, comes more specialty hemp strains. A strain is like a unique identifier. It will have a specific set of genetics (i.e. a cross of two or more existing CBD strains), a terpene profile that gives it a yummy aroma and taste, certain appearance, and set of effects.
The effects might not vary a whole lot from strain to strain, but the CBD percentage will and the types of terpenes and amount of each one will. These two factors play a role in how strong the effects will be.
If your biggest priority when choosing an artisan hemp flower strain is the smell and flavor, then you might like Hawaiian Haze or Sour Space Candy. They have tropical, sweet, and tangy flavors that you can taste and smell when smoking a joint. Even opening the jar or bag these strains come in can frill the air with the most divine aroma. An aroma that makes you smile and your heart jump for joy.
For those looking for a high potency strain, you may want to consider options like Lifter CBD and Special Sauce that have 17.5% to 19% CBD.
There are lots of other good flower choices out there, and many other types of smokable CBD products like CBD moonrocks, so be sure to do your research to find the perfect strain to satisfy your preferences.
Pennsylvania is a state that views industrial hemp as an economic asset. It has many uses, can generate several harvests during the year, and bring in revenue for the state. It’s a win win all the way around. And for consumers, the ability to buy CBD flower in a legal way is a huge benefit and perk to being a resident.
So, go out ahead and take a look at the great selection of CBD flower at you local store or online. The perfect CBD hemp strain is waiting for you!