Once all licensing is out of the way, hemp farmers can then look into the kinds of seeds to buy. Depending on the state, there are different laws regarding hemp seed certification. Seed certification identifies a seed’s genetic purity and varietal identity. By national law, hemp seeds cannot have more than 0.3 percent THC, the compound in the cannabis plant that makes users feel “high.” With CBD hemp farming, farmers do not want or seek out high concentrations of THC anyway, even if marijuana is legal in their state. Other than that, the national government leaves it up to states to determine if and how they will regulate hemp.
Only certain varietals of hemp seeds are eligible for certification. Organizations like the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA), an international group of seed-certifying agencies, exist to facilitate the movement of seed and plant products globally. They evaluate, record, and confirm that seeds and plants meet accepted industry standards. This is not only to make sure hemp farmers are producing safe and quality hemp plants and products, but it also protects hemp farmers from purchasing bad seeds.
With hemp recently legalized in the US and many other international locations, certifying hemp seeds and plants help regulate it.
Examples of Seed Certification Laws by State
As mentioned, seed certification regulations vary by state. For example, in Illinois, licensed hemp growers can only buy seed from qualified distributors with data showing seeds’ history of success and certificate of analysis (COA). Not every American hemp seed bank qualifies.
In Kentucky, hemp farmers are only allowed to grow hemp seed varietals approved by the state. Those can either be on the approved variety list or get special approval if not on that list. In addition, approved feminized hemp seeds are great for growing in Kentucky in particular. Wisconsin is another state requiring farmers to grow only approved CBD hemp seeds. They do this in part to protect CBD hemp farmers from the needless financial risk that comes from buying unknown seeds.
California hemp farmers are only allowed to grow certified seeds as well, to prove their stability and legality in terms of THC concentration. They allow certification from the AOSCA and other official seed certification agencies.
In other states, like Oregon, certification is not necessary to grow, sell, or buy hemp seeds. The state does provide a certification program for growers that want it, however. This is important if they plan to sell their seeds in another state that may require hemp growers to grow certified seeds only. Canada and many states have this requirement. Like Oregon, Massachusetts also does not require hemp farmers to buy certified seeds, but all hemp seeds must come with a reputable COA.