Alabama Hemp Overview


What is Hemp?

Hemp is also called industrial hemp. People generally refer to hemp cultivated for industrial use as industrial hemp. Industrial Hemp is grown for long stalks, which include fiber and timber that are commonly used in industrial applications. Hemp, on the other hand, is grown for the oil that is extracted from the flower or seed of the plant and used for therapeutic purposes everywhere, including in Alabama.

The following are some parts of the hemp plant and hemp derivatives:

  • Hemp seeds - Hemp seeds are small brownish seeds from cannabis plants. They are rich in nutrients and have a high concentration of protein, fiber and fatty acids with numerous health benefits. Hemp seeds are antioxidants. As a result, they protect against inflammation by neutralizing the effect of free radicals, which helps in diseases such as cancer.
  • Hemp Flower - The Hemp flower is the bud of the hemp plant where CBD is found in abundance. It has a lot of health benefits ranging from reduction of anxiety to pain relief. Hemp flower can be used in several ways, including smoking, vaping, or taking in oil or tincture forms.
  • Hemp Extract - Hemp extract is a concentrate of all constituents of the hemp plant’s seeds, leaves, flowers, and stems. It is made from the entire plant. This extract contains phytocannabinoids (including CBD), terpenoids, sterols, fatty acids, flavone, essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The liquid extract can be refined depending on the compounds required to be present.
  • Hemp Oil - Hemp oil is derived from hemp seeds. It does not contain THC or cannabinoids found in CBD oil. This makes it safe for oral consumption as food supplements or additives. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. It contains dietary fiber and all 20 amino acids, making it useful for building and repairing muscles. Hemp oils can also be applied topically as skin care for curing eczema and acne.
  • Hemp Hearts - Hemp heart is the tender inner part of the hemp seeds. It is the center of unshelled hemp seed. Hemp hearts are devoid of CBD or THC and will not make you high. Hemp heart is an adequate source of unsaturated fatty acids and essential amino acids needed for the normal functioning of the body.
  • Hemp Milk - Hemp milk is a common plant-based alternative to milk from dairy animals. It is made by blending soaked hemp seeds. The resulting product is an organic, delicious dairy-free beverage, milk in color, texture, and flavor. It can be sweetened or flavored to taste

Is Hemp Legal in Alabama?

Yes. Hemp is legal in Alabama. The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills saw long-standing federal restrictions on the cultivation of hemp removed. The 2018 Farm Bill, known as the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 enacted changes in provisions allowing for commercial hemp cultivation under federal law. In 2013, Alabama passed the Alabama Cannabis and Hemp Reform Act of 2013, a bill to legalize or regulate hemp. This bill removed industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances.

The 2018 Hemp Farming Act changed hemp legislation in Alabama. It delisted the crop and its derivatives from the category of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and provides a legal framework for the cultivation, processing, and commercialization of hemp. Alabama residents cannot grow or process hemp at home or on their property in the state without a license.

In compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, Alabama permits the cultivation, sale, and possession of Hemp and its derivatives. The state retains the regulatory authority over crops grown within its borders and hemp or hemp products that are dispatched across state lines. As a result, the shipping of hemp interstate is allowed in Alabama.

What Hemp Products are legal in Alabama?

Alabama allows all hemp products. This means that there are no federal or state restrictions on their use, possession and purchase. However, residents cannot grow hemp for food products or edibles in Alabama without being licensed.

It is legal to smoke hemp in Alabama as long as the consumer's hemp flower contains 0.3% of THC or less by dry weight. However, consuming hemp in public is not advisable as the chances of harassment by law enforcement who cannot tell the difference between it and marijuana are high.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Alabama?

A municipality cannot restrict hemp cultivation or its processing in Alabama. There are no hemp laws that allow cities, counties, and townships to determine whether to allow or restrict individuals and businesses from growing or producing hemp within their borders.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process Hemp in Alabama

A license is needed to grow or process hemp in Alabama. Only farmers or institutions licensed under the Industrial Hemp Research and Pilot test Program can legally cultivate or process hemp. The license that authorizes farmers to cultivate or process hemp is the grower or processor license. There are multiple licenses available. These include hemp-grower and processor/handler licenses. Hemp-grower license authorizes farmers to grow, produce, cultivate, handle and store hemp. A Hemp processor or handler license authorizes a person to process, handle and store hemp.

Hemp licenses are awarded by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI). For its 2024 application period, the ADAI will be accepting applications for the Alabama Hemp Grower and Processor licenses between November 1, 2023 and January 15, 2024.

To obtain a hemp cultivation license in Alabama, a completed application form, along with all necessary information and documents is required. An applicant who represents a business entity is expected to provide the full name of the business and location address. Including a cultivation plan, the proposed site where hemp will be grown or handled and the planned source of seeds. The application is to be submitted to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. The ADAI provides prospective licensees with a guide containing the major requirements to obtain a hemp license in the state.

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

An Alabama hemp license application fee is $150 (plus a 4.5% convenience fee). There is also an annual site fee of $1,000 (plus a 4.5% convenience fee) for each site used for growing, storing, drying, and handling hemp. These fees apply for grower/handler, processor/handler, and university license applications.

How to Grow Hemp in Alabama

Hemp can grow in almost any type of soil. However, certain soil types allow it to grow better. The best is a well-aerated and loose loamy soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Thus, to grow hemp, the seed is planted and watered throughout the growing season. Growers can care for the crop by using nitrogen-rich fertilizers and applying herbicides. Hereafter, the hemp fiber is ready for harvest. Hemp is cultivated differently from marijuana since hemp is adaptable; it tends to grow in various soil types and climates. They are grown outdoors in large quantities for their seeds and stalks. Marijuana is grown indoors or in greenhouses, requiring carefully controlled conditions to preserve its delicate buds.

Hemp can be cultivated at any location in Alabama only by licensed farmers but must be physically isolated from other crops. Alabama requires that only approved pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that comply with state and federal laws, are used by licensed hemp farmers.

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Alabama?

All hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% THC are legal in Alabama. Hence, residents of the state can buy smokable hemp flowers. However, its public consumption still poses a challenge as law enforcement can tell the difference between it and marijuana, which is high in THC. Alabama residents can buy hemp flowers in local stores and/or online. However, buying hemp flowers from online retailers is better.

Hemp flowers are sold in smoke shops, CBD stores, and dispensaries. Alabama does not limit the amount of hemp flowers residents can buy or own, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. In addition, businesses are allowed to ship in hemp flowers.

Hemp vs THC

Hemp and THC are not the same. Hemp is another term for the Cannabis Sativa plant, which contains 0.3% of THC or less by dry weight. In other words, hemp-derived products do not contain adequate amounts of THC enough to create the “high” usually associated with cannabis. Hemp-derived THC products are legal in Alabama, provided the THC contents do not exceed 0.3%.

Hemp vs CBD

Hemp and CBD are not the same. The difference between them is that CBD is a non-psychoactive product derived from various parts of the hemp plant or any CBD-rich cannabis species. CBD is an ingredient in hemp that can be extracted and processed into different products. Hemp has 0.3% THC content or less and a lot of CBD. Hence, hemp-derived products do not contain enough THC to get people high.

Hemp-derived CBD products are legal and can be sold in Alabama, provided they contain less than 0.3% THC content in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill.

Hemp Applications

The following are some hemp applications in Alabama:

  • Hemp is a viable option in the manufacture of high-quality paper, clothes, and textiles because it grows faster than trees and other crops
  • Hemp fibers are used for rope and cordage, shoes, and insulation. They are also useful in making biofuels, bioplastics, eco-friendly building materials and automotive
  • Hemp seed is considered to be highly nutritious and rich in dietary fiber. It is used for making animal feed, healthy food products high in essential fatty and amino acids and low cholesterol
  • Hemp oil is used in creams and ointments for anti-aging and relief from various skin conditions
  • Hemp protein powder and milk are useful essential supplements and additives
  • Hemp flowers, leaves, and stalks which contain a higher concentration of cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) can be smoked or processed into beneficial extracts and edibles

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