Hemp Licensing

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Chapter 274 – Rules for Growing Hemp

The comment period on the proposed amendments to Chapter 274 - Rules for Growing and Processing Hemp ended on January 5, 2023.

The proposed rules amend the requirements for becoming licensed to grow hemp and establish new rules to process hemp including fees, application and licensing processes, procedures for inspecting and monitoring the growth or processing of hemp, and penalties for violation of the rules. The proposal continues the State hemp licensing program for hemp growers and functions in the same way as it always has since 2016.

The proposed amendments will allow Maine hemp growers to be compliant with the federal regulations and provide unfettered access to the national hemp market. The grower licensing system is amended to provide some incentive and fee relief for hemp growers that may be accessing markets beyond the typical cannabinoid flower production market, such as, microgreens, fiber, and grain markets. It also provides fee relief for hemp researchers and hemp breeders.

Applying for a 2023 Hemp License: The DACF has 120 days from the end of the comment period to respond to comments and adopt the proposed rules. Until that occurs prospective hemp growers and processors will have to hold off on applying for any license.

About the Hemp Program

  • DACF is the licensing authority for growing hemp in Maine. Hemp is low-THC Cannabis sativa that is grown for CBD, fiber, food, and more. It is legal to grow in the US, but it is regulated, and you need a license to grow it.
  • DACF is operating Maine’s hemp production plan approved by USDA. All hemp licensed in Maine meets USDA’s definition for hemp (Total THC (dry weight) is at or below 0.3%) and can be marketed nationwide.
  • DACF’s Hemp Program does not license or regulate high-THC Cannabis sativa, which is better known as marijuana. All inquiries about marijuana laws and licensing must be directed to Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy.
  • DACF does not regulate the processing of hemp. Because we do not license processors, we do not keep a list of processors or markets for hemp.

Applying for a 2023 Hemp License

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Hemp Resources

What is the process for becoming licensed to grow hemp in Maine?

  1. Please apply at least 30 days before you intend to plant your crop so that you have a signed license agreement in hand before you plant. Include the $100 non-refundable application fee with your signed application.
  2. Hemp program reviews and approves application. DACF emails the grower a draft hemp license agreement.
  3. Agree to all the conditions and sign the license agreement. Mail this document to DACF with license fees.
  4. Register your growsites at your local USDA-FSA office.
  5. Plant your hemp in discreet lots by variety. We will sample each lot.
  6. Within 14 days after planting hemp, submit a planting report. This report confirms exactly where you planted within the area(s) licensed and documents that the hemp varieties planted came from stock that contained no more than 0.3% Total THC by dry weight.
  7. Hemp program inspects grow sites.
  8. Keep hemp program informed about your hemp operation, including contact information changes, crop failures, and anticipated harvest dates.
  9. Notify the hemp program at 30 days before harvest if your crop has not been sampled yet. Monitor your THC levels. Hemp cannot exceed 0.3% Total THC by dry weight. Hemp containing higher levels of THC will have to be destroyed if remediation is not feasible.
  10. An inspector samples your lots and a Certificate of Analysis for THC content is generated by the lab.
  11. Complete a post-harvest report.

Explanation of Fees

Maine law requires that the Department cover the costs of operating the hemp program by charging an application fee, license fee and a per acre fee. These fees are as follows:

  • $100 non-refundable application fee – this fee must be submitted with the application.
  • $500 license fee – this fee is due after approval of the application and must be submitted with the signed licensing agreement. (A separate $500.00 fee is due for both indoor and outdoor licensing agreements)
  • Outdoor growing license
    • $50/acre fee – this fee is due after approval of the application and must be submitted with the signed licensing agreement.
  • Indoor growing license
    • $0.25/square foot - this fee is due after approval of the application and must be submitted with the signed licensing agreement. (multiple growing tiers are additive)

Fees collected will cover Departmental costs including, but not limited to:

  • Inspector travel costs including time to and from the growing area to take crop samples for THC content analysis;
  • Costs of transporting crop samples to a lab for THC content analysis;
  • Laboratory fees for testing crop samples;
  • Costs of equipment and supplies used in sampling;
  • Departmental time reviewing applications, preparing licensing agreements and issuing licenses;
  • Other administrative costs.

Choosing hemp varieties, buying seeds, seedlings, clones

Maine does not certify hemp seed nor does Maine publish a list of approved or prohibited hemp strains/varieties/cultivars. 

For hemp to be hemp, its Total THC concentration must not exceed 0.3% on a dry weight basis. While genetics have a role in determining THC expression, many environmental factors can influence it, including plant maturity, temperature, water, soil fertility, and any number of stressors.

There are many types of hemp advertised as varieties, cultivars, strains and crosses. They may not have been bred and stabilized as other crop plants have been. They may exhibit unstable traits. Few have been certified by AOSCA and those that have are typically varieties grown for fiber and grain, not CBD. To grow a more uniform and predictable crop, some growers plant clones. Whatever you decide to use, choose your hemp seed or clones carefully, and make sure you get third-party laboratory documentation about the THC concentration of the parent plants. As you farm, take notes about crop performance, monitor your crop’s THC content while buds form, and test for other cannabinoids if you are growing for a CBD market.

To comply with the Maine law when you purchase seed, seedlings or clones, you must retain documentation that could include a letter, form, or other written verification or combination of documents that at a minimum includes:

  • Third party (someone other than the applicant and the grower of the seed) THC content testing results for the hemp. The third party should be identified on the testing results;
  • THC content test results must be for the variety or varieties included on the application and preferably for the specific lot of seed to be planted;
  • Results of THC content testing and the date tests were conducted;
  • The name of the seed supplier and origin of the seed.

You must submit this documentation with your planting report, which is due within 14 days after planting.

Sampling and Testing

The licensee will allow the inspection and sampling of the hemp crop at any and all times that the Department deems necessary. The licensee will be notified prior to inspection and sampling. During the inspection and sampling the licensee or authorized representative will allow complete and unrestricted access to all hemp plants within the licensed growing area(s).
If the hemp crop has not been inspected and sampled 30 days prior to the anticipated harvest date, the licensee will notify the Department of intent to harvest.

Plants will be randomly sampled in each hemp lot and tested for THC content.

Crops testing above the allowable THC limit (0.3% Total THC on a dry weight basis) will be destroyed in a manner approved by the Department. The licensee is responsible for paying all costs associated with crop destruction.

Pest Management Resources for Hemp Crops

List of Licensed Hemp Growers

Updated: January 9, 2023