Connecticut Hemp Overview


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What Is Hemp?

Hemp, also known as industrial hemp, is a variety of cannabis Sativa L. with less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Because of the trace amount of THC, hemp is not psychoactive like marijuana. Hemp and marijuana look similar and belong to the same cannabis sativa species. However, hemp plants grow skinnier and taller, while marijuana plants do not grow tall and have buds and flowers. Another notable difference between hemp and marijuana is their psychoactive component, THC. Hemp has 0.3% or less THC, while marijuana has high levels of THC.

Hemp seeds, sometimes called hemp nuts, are the edible seeds of the hemp plant. Hemp seeds may be eaten raw or processed into oil, protein powder, or milk. They have no psychoactive effect because they contain an insignificant amount of THC. Hemp flowers found at the top of the hemp plant come from the female hemp plant. They are low in THC (less than 0.3%), but high in Cannabidiol (CBD). Hemp flowers can be consumed by vaping, eating, smoking, or taking as a supplement.

Hemp extract is the natural liquid extracted from all parts of the hemp plant. It contains many chemical compounds, including CBD. Hemp extract can be refined into specific compounds of the hemp plant. Hemp oil is derived from the ripened seeds of hemp plants. It contains trace amounts of THC and CBD and is non-intoxicating. Hemp oil is a good source of healthy omega fatty acids, making it excellent for oral consumption. In addition, it helps restore damaged skin, hair, and nails.

Hemp hearts are the soft interior part of the hemp seed. There is no THC or CBD in hemp hearts. Hemp hearts are a great source of protein and may be consumed orally. Hemp hearts boost immune cells and help repair damaged muscle fiber. Hemp milk is derived from blending the seeds of a hemp plant. Hemp milk does not contain THC and is usually consumed for its nutritional benefits.

Is Hemp Legal in Connecticut?

Yes. The Farm Bill of 2014, also known as the U.S. Agricultural Act of 2014, authorizes the states’ Departments of Agriculture to regulate the production of hemp under pilot schemes. The pilot programs restricted hemp production with limited supervision from the federal government. States used the pilot programs to establish programs allowing the processing, production, and sale of hemp and CBD products.

The 2018 Farm Bill repeals the law permitting states to regulate hemp production under pilot programs and authorized states to be more restrictive in their hemp production laws. It lays down the requirements, such as the reporting requirements, sampling and testing requirements, disposal requirements, and a corrective action plan for violators. State programs must meet these requirements before beginning operations. The bill also eliminates the legal penalties for using, selling, possessing, and transporting hemp across state lines.

In 2015, Connecticut enacted HB 5780. It defined industrial hemp in accordance with the Farm Bill Act of 2014. However, the state did not roll out its hemp pilot program until 2019. The program legalized the use and sale of hemp-based products in Connecticut. The state further amended its hemp laws in 2020 to reflect the federal regulatory requirements. It submitted the Connecticut State Hemp Plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on the requirements of the 2018 Hemp Farming Act.

Connecticut residents may legally grow hemp provided they obtain a growers license from the state’s Department of Agriculture. In addition, the state allows consumers to cross state lines with hemp and hemp products in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill. However, if the individual crosses state lines with hemp and intends to convert them into edibles, they must hold a manufacturer of hemp-consumable license.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Connecticut?

Per Connecticut’s state hemp plan, the state permits all hemp and hemp products. However, hemp must be grown legally and must not contain more than 0.3% THC. Connecticut residents and businesses may cultivate hemp for food and edibles after obtaining a manufacturing license from the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).

It is legal to smoke hemp in Connecticut. However, the state amended its Connecticut Clean Indoor Air Act in 2021 to accommodate the legalization of adult use of cannabis. The law expands the prohibited smokable areas for hemp. It prohibits smoking hemp in public spaces. Specifically, it is illegal to smoke hemp in state-owned buildings, healthcare institutions, restaurants, retail establishments, school grounds or buildings, childcare facilities, elevators, or any area designated as a shelter for a bus or rail station.

Although hemp-based products contain less than 0.3% THC and driving while consuming the same does not impair the user, Connecticut law prohibits truckers or drivers from smoking while operating a motor vehicle.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Connecticut?

No. Connecticut hemp laws do not authorize municipalities, counties, and cities to restrict businesses and individuals from cultivating hemp within their borders. On the converse, the state has a holistic plan for all hemp producers, as approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

How to Get a License to Grow or Process in Connecticut

Businesses and individuals intending to grow or process hemp in Connecticut must obtain a hemp growers license or hemp processor license from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DOAG). Persons interested in cultivating hemp may obtain a growers license. The processor license is issued to persons who intend to convert hemp to products non-consumable by humans, such as building products, animal food, and textiles. The hemp growers and processor licenses are valid for three years.

The DOAG requires electronic copies of the following documents for a hemp cultivation application license:

  • Evidence of site location
  • The global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the cultivation site
  • A map showing the cultivation site boundaries
  • The legal description of the growing site
  • Personal information for all key partners
  • Criminal history records check
  • Written consent to conduct scheduled and random inspection

Also, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection issues licenses to businesses and individuals who manufacture hemp intended for human absorption, inhalation, ingestion, or internal consumption. To obtain the manufacturer of hemp consumables license, interested persons can apply online by creating an account and paying the application, site modification, and licensing fees. The license is valid for two years.

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

A Connecticut hemp license application fee is a non-refundable $50. The license fee is $450 for the first acre and $30 per additional acre. The maximum license fee payable is $3,000. The site modification fee is $30 per additional acre above the first acre. The license renewal fee is $450 for the first acre, payable every three years. In Connecticut, state agencies, department research projects, and academia are exempted from paying the hemp license application, licensing fees, and renewal fees.

How to Grow Hemp in Connecticut

Hemp is easy to grow, nurture, and harvest. Based on species, hemp plants reach maturity between 8 - 16 weeks. The best time to grow hemp seed is between April to June. The following steps are required to grow hemp from seeds in Connecticut:

  • Soak the hemp seed for 8 - 24 hours away from direct sunlight
  • Check the condition of the soil to establish its suitability. The best soil for planting hemp seeds is loam soil, containing a PH of 6 to 7.5
  • Pre-water the soil
  • Put the seed into the soil at ½ to 1 inch below the surface. The ideal row spacing is at least 4 inches between seeds
  • Water the hemp plant regularly and ensure the plant gets direct sunlight

Hemp and marijuana are members of the same species but are cultivated in different ways. Marijuana cultivation demands precision and care. It requires constant monitoring of the humidity and temperature and pruning of plants at every stage. Marijuana is cultivated for its THC concentration, found majorly in its unpollinated female flowers. Also, growers must deliberately control marijuana plant nutrient intake. Hemp is easier to grow. Hemp plants thrive in almost all conditions and do not require constant monitoring. Hemp is cultivated basically for CBD and other cannabinoids.

Connecticut law permits hemp cultivators to determine which pesticides to use on their hemp plants. However, the choice of pesticide must be in accordance with the state regulation. The Connecticut Department of Energy Environmental Protection (DEEP) regulates pesticides used for hemp cultivation. Hemp cultivators must register any pesticide for their hemp plants with the department before applying them. The DEEP lists the following guidelines for selecting suitable hemp pesticides:

  • The label must not restrict its use to specific plants or crops
  • The pesticide label must permit the product use on the hemp cultivation site
  • The pesticide product should permit its application on hemp cultivated for human consumption
  • The active ingredients listed on the pesticide must not be part of the requirement for tolerance of pesticide chemical residue

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Connecticut?

Connecticut law permits individuals to buy all low-THC hemp-derived products, including smokable hemp flowers. Residents can buy hemp flowers from vape shops, THC and CBD stores, dispensaries, and online. Connecticut laws do not limit the amount of hemp flower an individual can buy, provided the hemp flower has no more than 0.3% THC content. It is legal for businesses to ship hemp flowers containing less than 0.3% THC into the state.

Hemp vs THC

THC is a psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants that can give its user a euphoric feeling. Hemp is cannabis containing no more than 0.3% THC. Both hemp and THC have links to cannabis. However, they are not the same.

  • THC is one of the derivatives of hemp
  • THC is found in hemp and marijuana plants. However, the THC in hemp must be less than 0.3% to be considered legal
  • The THC derived from hemp is non-psychoactive and does not give a high
  • Hemp is high in CBD
  • Hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% THC are legal in Connecticut

Individuals and businesses may sell hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% THC in Connecticut and sellers do not require a license to retail their products. However, it is illegal to sell hemp products with claims that they offer health, physical, or medical benefits.

Hemp vs CBD

CBD is a chemical extracted from different parts of hemp plants or other cannabis strains. Hemp plants contain a large amount of CBD. Hemp-derived CBD products do not give a euphoric feeling, nor are they addictive. Hemp-derived CBD is not a controlled substance in Connecticut. Therefore residents may legally sell hemp-derived CBD without a license in the state. However, the state requires the seller to get a license if they intend to process or manufacture hemp into CBD before selling it.

Hemp Applications

Hemp is a versatile resource used for numerous products. Most parts of the hemp plant can be processed and used for different purposes. Apart from using hemp for medical purposes, some other use of hemp in Connecticut includes:

  • Food: The majority of hemp products are used for consumables. Hemp milk is an alternate source to dairy, while hemp seed and hemp oils are used in healthy recipes. Other hemp-derived foods include hemp snacks such as granola bars, hemp drinks, hemp teas, hemp protein powder, and hemp edibles
  • Clothing: Hemp fiber is used in making clothing. They are of superior quality, long-lasting, and gentle on the skin
  • Cosmetics: Hemp oil may be used as a skincare product. They are soothing, repair damaged skin and hair, reduce wrinkles, and are beneficial for aromatherapy. Hemp-derived cosmetic products include nail polish, body lotions, sun cream, anti-aging creams, makeup, and shampoos
  • Construction: The hemp plant can be used to build furniture, walls, and shelves. Hemp is a renewable energy source that can replace conventional building material through a hemp concrete formula, hempcrete. Hempcrete is made from the woody fiber of the hemp plant and is lighter, great for insulating walls and floors, fireproof, and easier to use
  • Paper: Hemp is an alternative to wood for paper making. The paper is made using the hemp hurd and pulp. It is sturdier than writing paper made from wood and easily recycled
  • Plastic: Hemp plastic falls into the bioplastic category. It is recyclable and 100% biodegradable. It does not negatively impact the environment like regular plastic made from chemicals derived from coal, oil, or natural gas
  • Biofuels: Biofuels are plant-derived fuels. Hemp is useful in producing biofuel. Hemp fuel is derived from the fibrous stalk of the hemp plant. Hemp-derived fuel is cost-efficient and does not harm the environment
  • Ropes: Hemp stalks are sturdy with good tensile strength and can be processed into ropes, cords, and sails for boats
  • Batteries: Hemp can be used in making batteries called hemp supercapacitors. They are cheaper to manufacture than graphene-based nanosheets used for regular batteries
  • Animal Feed: Hemp is high in protein and fiber, making it an excellent replacement for soybean in animal feed and offering a cheaper source of feed to animals
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