News Release, Maryland Department of Agriculture
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program is now accepting applications for the 2020 growing season. In its second year, the program allows eligible farmers to partner with institutions of higher education or the department to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.
“Industrial hemp is another opportunity for Maryland farmers to diversify their operations and one more way that we can ensure rural Maryland is open for business,” said Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder. “In its inaugural year, our industrial hemp program received a lot of participation from Maryland farmers and we are excited to see this program grow in 2020.”
Farmers interested in growing industrial hemp must partner with an institution of higher education or the Maryland Department of Agriculture to develop a research project and a plan for the use and/or destruction of the crop. Program participants will be allowed to sell their crops for profit at the end of the growing season. Maryland currently does not limit acres or the number of applications for this pilot program.
In its first year, the program registered 69 sites for projects partnering with eight different institutions of higher education. In total, 1,500 acres and more than one million square feet of greenhouse space were registered to grow hemp in 2019.
Industrial hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa. Marijuana is cultivated because of its production of the psychoactive plant chemical delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Industrial hemp is cultivated for fiber, seed, oil, and other purposes, and federal and state law requires that the concentration of THC must be less than 0.3% in industrial hemp.
Program applications are available for download on the department’s website. Applicants will also be required to apply for an FBI criminal background check.