Michigan Hemp Overview

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What Is Hemp?

According to Section 297A of the Agricultural and Marketing Act of 1946, hemp is any part of the Cannabis Sativa L plant. These include hemp seeds, derivatives, isomers, salts, acids, and extracts with no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. Hemp and industrial hemp are used synonymously. However, industrial hemp refers to hemp plants grown for manufacturing purposes, while hemp is used to describe Cannabis Sativa L cultivated for its medicinal and therapeutic effects.

Hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant Cannabis Sativa L. They are similar in appearance but come from different cultivars and varieties. While the marijuana plant is cultivated for its psychotropic attributes, the hemp plant is grown to produce a vast range of products, including paper, rope, fabrics, textiles, personal care products, construction materials, food, beverages, and industrial products. Marijuana and hemp also differ in their threshold of psychoactive compounds. While hemp plants are non-psychoactive, containing no more than 0.3% THC, marijuana is psychoactive and has no specified threshold for THC content. Hemp plant height at harvest ranges between 4 - 8 feet and are thin, while marijuana plants grow wider and often appear bushy.

The hemp plant comprises several parts and has several derivatives, each with unique properties and benefits. The hemp seeds are the seeds of the hemp plant that contains over 30% fat. Hemp seeds are rich in fatty acids, magnesium, protein, and fiber. Hemp seeds provide health benefits such as aiding digestion, reducing inflammation, and improving skin conditions. Heart hearts are the unshelled inner parts of the hemp seed. It is excellent for heart health and improves immunity levels. Hemp milk is derived from whole hemp seed, is high in protein, and improves heart health.

The hemp flower is produced by the female hemp plant. Also known as hemp buds, hemp flowers help to manage symptoms of restlessness, insomnia, pain, and seizures. Hemp extracts come from cold-pressing hemp seeds and contain high fatty acids and vitamins. Hemp extracts, also known as hemp oil, help to relieve pain, lower blood pressure, and improve anxiety.



Is Hemp Legal in Michigan?

Yes, hemp is legal in Michigan. The 2014 Farm Bill paved the way for hemp cultivation across the United States. The bill established the Hemp Research Pilot Program for hemp cultivation and research purposes and tasked higher institutions and states’ departments of agriculture with this responsibility. However, it did not permit hemp production for commercial purposes, and production was subject to state laws. Michigan enacted the Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act in 2014 and adapted it to align with the 2014 Farm Bill. The Act permits the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp for research and development purposes by higher institutions and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) as part of the agricultural pilot program.

The 2018 Farm Bill improves on the 2014 Farm Bill. It repealed the hemp pilot program, replacing it with the Hemp Production Program. The bill excludes hemp from the definition of marijuana and defines it based on its THC content, setting a threshold of 0.3%. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances, allowing hemp cultivation and processing on a commercial scale under state laws. It also eased hemp interstate commerce. In addition, the bill grants states the authority to regulate hemp production and submit a state plan for approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 2018, the Michigan legislature further amended its hemp law by enacting House Bill 6330 to comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill authorizes cultivating and growing of industrial hemp for research purposes. To adhere to the THC requirement of the 2018 Farm Bill, HB 6330 requires hemp growers to test their crops' THC contents before harvest. It is legal for residents to transport hemp within Michigan and across state lines under the 2018 Farm Bill.

In 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Industrial Hemp Growers Act into law. The Act regulates the activities of hemp growers and processors in Michigan. The Act permits licensing for businesses growing, cultivating, processing, and handling industrial hemp. Although the cultivation and processing of hemp is legal for persons or entities with a valid hemp license, it is unlawful for residents to grow hemp on residential properties.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Michigan?

All hemp products containing no more than 0.3% THC are legal in Michigan. Residents can legally purchase tinctures, lotions, vape, edibles, topicals, and hemp flowers. Hemp cultivation for food and edibles is also legal. However, Michigan hemp laws require residents to register and obtain a license to cultivate hemp for food products. In Michigan, It is legal to smoke hemp on private property. Smoking hemp in public places, including restaurants, buildings, parks, schools, and bars, is illegal. It is also an offense for motorists and truckers to smoke hemp while driving.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Michigan?

No. Per Section 19 of HB 6330, the Michigan Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act supersedes any regulation or ordinance enacted by any city in the state relating to industrial hemp. Consequently, municipalities, counties, cities, and townships cannot restrict, limit, or prohibit hemp businesses with relevant state licenses within their borders.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process in Michigan

Hemp cultivators and processors in Michigan must obtain a license from the MDARD’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) before commencing operations. To apply for a Hemp Growers License, interested persons must fill out the Hemp Growers Registration Application Form. The MDARD requires prospective growers to attach an FBI background check report, a satellite view of all intending hemp cultivation locations, and a legal description of each location with their application. Applicants must also include a check or money order for the application fees and mail completed forms and documents to:

Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development

P.O. Box 30776

Lansing, MI 48909-8276

Prospective hemp processors in Michigan can get a Hemp Processor License by completing the Hemp Processor/Handler License Form. The completed form, necessary documents, and payment should be packaged in an envelope and mailed to:

Cannabis Regulatory Agency

P.O. Box 30776

Lansing, MI 48909

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

In Michigan, the Hemp Growers Registration Application fees cost $1,250 for the initial and subsequent application. However, license renewal applications not submitted before 31st January annually attract a late fee payment of $250.

The Michigan Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act of 2014 details the hemp processor licensing fee. Initial registration and subsequent renewals cost $1,350. There is a $250 late fee for renewal applications submitted after the cut-off date of 30th November every year.

How to Grow Hemp in Michigan

Hemp is best grown in early winter to late spring when the soil temperature is 60 - 80°F. Depending on the hemp species, the maturity period is about 8 - 16 weeks. Hemp seeds require well-drained, loamy soil with pH levels between 6.0 - 7.5. Hemp is best cultivated outdoors, requiring up to 8 hours of daily sunlight.

During planting, hemp seeds should be put into the soil ½ to 1 inch deep. The seeds should be planted closer together if the hemp is cultivated for fiber production and planted far apart if grown for its seeds. It is best practice to irrigate the hemp plants until the soil is damp for the first six weeks after planting. Hemp plants require high levels of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, to thrive. To have the best yield, growers must fortify the soil with a water-soluble nitrogen-based fertilizer immediately after the seeds germinate.

Hemp and marijuana plants come from the same cannabis species. However, they are grown differently. Marijuana plants may be cultivated indoors and require up to 4 feet between plants when growing to reduce the risk of bacteria and molds. Marijuana plants grow short and bushier with thick leaves rather than taller with skinny leaves like the hemp plant.

Per the Industrial Growers Hemp Act of 2020, hemp cultivators must adhere to the following:

  • A hemp cultivator may only grow hemp at the location on the grower's application

  • The cultivation location must be owned or controlled exclusively by the grower

  • It is unlawful for a hemp grower to harvest industrial hemp before an official sample is obtained

  • Hemp cultivators may not interplant hemp with other crops without permission from the MDARD

  • It is unlawful for a hemp cultivator to grow hemp varieties listed on the prohibited industrial hemp varieties

  • Hemp growers may only use pesticides approved by the MDARD

  • Hemp growers may use and dispose of pesticides according to the manufacturer's directions provided on the product’s label

  • Hemp growers applying for Restricted Use Pesticides (RUD) must obtain Pesticide Applicator Certification

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Michigan?

Hemp flower is legal in Michigan and residents can purchase it from vape shops, dispensaries, wellness centers, and convenience stores. State law also permits the purchase of hemp flowers from online dispensaries. There is no restriction to the amount of hemp flower consumers may purchase, provided the products contain no more than 0.3% THC. Per Michigan hemp law, business owners in Michigan may legally ship hemp-derived products into the state.

Hemp vs THC

Hemp is a cannabis plant containing no more than 0.3% THC. Hemp plants are low in THC but high in Cannabidiol, CBD. THC is the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana consumers a euphoric high. Hemp-derived THC products have therapeutic effects and are useful for alleviating pain, improving sleep, and reducing discomfort. Hemp-derived THC products are legal in Michigan.

Hemp vs CBD

CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in high amounts in hemp plants. CBD is also derived from marijuana plants. However, marijuana only contains trace CBD levels. Hemp-derived CBD products are legal for sale, purchase, and consumption in Michigan, provided they contain no more than 0.3% THC concentration.

Hemp Applications

Hemp is known for its medical and therapeutic benefits. However, it is also used to produce various commercial and industrial-grade products in Michigan, including:

  • Beauty Products: Hemp extracts contain high amounts of fatty acid, used as a base in moisturizers, beard oil, hair oils, and lip balms. Also, hemp water is used as a base in facewash, styling lotions, hair gels, and sunscreens

  • Hemp Paper: Made from the pulp of the fibers of industrial hemp, paper derived from hemp is easy to produce and more durable than traditionally produced paper. It is renewable, making it more sustainable than paper from trees

  • Building Materials: Hemp concrete, referred to as hempcrete, is a mixture of hemp cords, lime base, sand, and water. Bulk insulation is made from hemp stabilized with lime. Finishing coatings can be produced with a mixture of hemp fiber and lime

  • Twines and Ropes: Hemp fiber is strong and durable, making it an excellent material for high-quality yarns, ropes, and twines. Ropes made from industrial hemp are mold resistant and can withstand extreme conditions

  • Textile: Hemp textiles are made from the stem of the hemp plant. Fabrics made from hemp are more durable and affordable than clothing materials made from cotton

  • Biofuel: Hemp seed oil is used in the production of biodiesel. Biodiesel made from hemp seed oil has a better quality than traditional diesel. Hemp stalks are also useful in the production of hemp ethanol for making fuel

  • Food: Hemp seeds are high in protein and unsaturated fats and are used in a variety of food products, including hemp milk, hemp beverages, hemp protein powders, and cheese substitutes

  • Animal Feed: Hemp is high in fiber, protein, and fat, making it a good substitute for soybean in livestock feeds. Hemp oil can be added to the feed of ruminant animals to provide essential fatty acids, while hemp seed is an excellent source of protein for bird and chicken feed

  • Oils and Varnishes: Hemp oil is great for wood finishing. Wood varnishes made from hemp oil create a protective barrier on the wood, protecting it from moisture and UV damage

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