On October 12, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 153, a bill aimed at supplementing existing laws governing industrial hemp and conforming California’s hemp law to the requirements for a state plan under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill).

Notable provisions of SB-153 include:

  • A requirement that the Secretary of the California Department of Food & Agriculture, in consultation with the governor and the Attorney General, develop and submit a state plan on industrial hemp to the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on or before May 1, 2020.
  • A slightly modified definition of “Industrial hemp” and “Hemp” to mean “an agricultural product, whether growing or not, that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds of the plant and all derivatives, extracts, the resin extracted from any part of the plant, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of no more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
  • Registration requirements for commercial and non-commercial growers.
  • A narrowing of the definition of established agricultural research institutions to be more consistent with federal law.
  • A clarification that licensed cannabis premises may not cultivate hemp. Hemp cultivated in a licensed premise will be considered cannabis.
  • The addition of enforcement provisions and penalties for false statements on applications as well as a bar on participating in the industrial hemp program for individuals with a conviction relating to controlled substances within the prior 10-year period.
  • An expansion of the composition of the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board to include more industry stakeholders.

Despite being signed into law, questions remain regarding SB-153. First, it is unclear from the text of SB-153 when specific provisions will take effect. Second, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has yet to promulgate official guidance regarding compliance. Finally, USDA’s interim final rules on hemp production have not yet been approved by the White House. Depending on what minimums the USDA sets, portions of SB-153 may be pre-empted. We’ll continue to track developments regarding the implementation of SB-153 and USDA’s final rules here and provide updates accordingly.

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