State officials made it easier than ever last week for farmers to grow hemp in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) announced a slate of rule changes for the state's hemp program, following a pilot program.

"Farmers have been growing and researching this crop in Tennessee since the program began in 2015 as a pilot program," Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher said in a statement. "The hemp industry and federal laws have changed in recent years, and we're updating our program rules to be more consistent with how other crop programs are managed."

click to enlarge Some fine (and legal!) Tennessee hemp. - TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
  • Tennessee Department of Agriculture
  • Some fine (and legal!) Tennessee hemp.

The biggest change is that the application period for a license to grow hemp is now open year-round. Licenses will expire June 30th of each year, and all grower licenses issued in 2019 will expire June 2020.

 Other program changes include:

• Hemp processors will no longer be required to register through TDA.

• The hemp program will no longer issue licenses for certified seed breeders.

• Growers will still need movement permits when transporting rooted plants and are now required to be permitted when moving harvested hemp from their growing site.

 TDA has licensed more than 2,900 hemp growers in 2019. In 2018, TDA approved 226 hemp producer applications.

 Federal and state laws require Tennessee hemp growers be licensed through TDA's hemp program. While the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, it remains illegal to grow hemp without a license through an approved state program.

Harken to Arkansas

Two new medical cannabis dispensaries are slated to open in Arkansas this month. 

Only two dispensaries were ready to rock at the starting gun for medical cannabis sales in Arkansas last month. In the first three weeks, Doctor's Orders and Green Springs Medical — both in Hot Springs — sold 107.83 pounds of medical marijuana in 9,941 transactions.

But the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission said Arkansas Natural Products, located in Clinton, was slated for inspection by state agents last week and could open then "if everything required is in place." Also, Delta Cultivators (doing business as Greenlight Dispensary), located in Helena-West Helena, announced it wanted to open by mid-June, but an inspection date had not been confirmed.

Natural State Medicinals Cultivation became the state's second cannabis cultivator to deliver product to dispensaries last week. Bold Team LLC was the first cultivator on the market. Both companies are located in Jefferson County (Pine Bluff).

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