Cannabis Industry News Alert

Time is running out to apply for a license to grow or process hemp in Alabama in 2020, as the application window is only open from October 7 to November 14, 2019. Growing and processing of industrial hemp in Alabama is only legal for those who are approved as licensed growers, processors/handlers or universities under the Alabama Industrial Hemp Research and Pilot Program.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) launched the program in early 2019, after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which defines industrial hemp as parts of the hemp plant containing less than 0.3% THC, including derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids (including, for example, CBD). The program includes a process for issuing three types of hemp licenses on an annual basis: 1) grower; 2) processor/handler; and 3) university. All participants, even those licensed for 2019, must apply for and receive a license for 2020.

To apply for a hemp license under the program, applicants must submit a completed application to the ADAI for a license to grow, process or handle hemp, along with all required information, a criminal background check, and applicable fees. Criminal background checks, which are mandatory under the 2018 Farm Bill, can be requested from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Applicants should know that the $200 application fee is nonrefundable, and if approved for a license, an additional $1,000 fee will be due for each growing and processing/handling site. Business applicants must submit copies of their formation documentation as well.

Given the relatively short application window and the amount of information that needs to be submitted as part of a completed application, applicants should consider beginning the application process as soon as possible. This is especially true given the requirement that criminal background checks are required. Although ADAI will allow applicants who receive criminal background reports requested from ALEA in late October to submit those reports by November 25, 2019, applicants can reduce the risk that unexpected delays will cause their application to be submitted out of time by starting now.

ADAI has set up a helpful site to guide applicants through the process of completing and submitting an application. There is also a useful FAQ page with key information about the program and application process, including links to application forms and instructions, as well as information on how to request a criminal background check. Additional information about the program and related resources is available here.