New Hampshire Hemp Overview

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What Is Hemp?

Hemp is legally defined as a cannabis plant containing not more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry weight basis. It is a class of the Cannabis sativa family containing hundreds of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. Cannabis plants with more than 0.3% THC are called marijuana. Typically, marijuana contains between 5% and 15% THC. THC induces the intoxicating and euphoric effects experienced by marijuana users. Hemp with less than 0.3% THC does not get users high; instead, it causes a calming effect in them. Hemp and marijuana can be mistaken for each other as they are both varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. Aside from their composition, they have varying legal statuses. Marijuana is illegal and listed as a Schedule I substance in the United States Controlled Substances Act. On the other hand, hemp was removed from the list in 2018 and is legally used for medicinal and industrial purposes.

Furthermore, hemp and marijuana plants differ in their physical appearances. Hemp plants are slim, with slender leaves at the top of their stalks. In contrast, marijuana is a short cannabis plant with broad leaves. However, it may be difficult for law enforcement agents to differentiate them.

Hemp is often referred to as industrial hemp because of its many industrial uses. It can be used to produce several industrial products, such as biofuel, textiles, paper, plastic, and cosmetics. Parts of the hemp plant that are commonly used for medical purposes and their derivatives include:

  • Hemp Extract: Hemp extract is made by crushing hemp flowers and may be used to reduce stress and anxiety. It may also be used to relieve chronic pain
  • Hemp Flowers: Hemp flower is low in THC and can be used to treat anxiety disorders. It can also be used to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in patients who are unresponsive to other therapies
  • Hemp Hearts: Hemp hearts are obtained when the shells of hemp seeds are removed. They are rich in vitamins, proteins, and healthy fats. Hemp hearts can be used to improve cognitive function, improve heart health, provide relief from constipation, and reduce the risk of diabetes
  • Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds are obtained from the hemp plant. They are rich in fiber, magnesium, protein, and fatty acid. They may be used to regulate heartbeat and prevent coronary diseases
  • Hemp Oil: Hemp oil, also called hemp seed oil, is an omega-rich oil produced by cold-pressing hemp seeds. It can be used orally or topically as a pain reliever. Hemp oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. It is used in of cosmetics production
  • Hemp Milk: Hemp milk can be used as an alternative to dairy farm milk and is produced by blending hemp seeds and water. Its protein level is higher than that of beef. It contains omega-6 fatty acids, which induce anti-inflammatory effects on its users. Hemp milk can be consumed by children and those who are THC-intolerant

Is Hemp Legal in New Hampshire?

Yes, hemp is legal in New Hampshire. The 2014 Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) permitted higher educational institutions or state departments of agriculture to cultivate hemp for research purposes. However, hemp was not removed from the list of controlled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, and it was still illegal for the public to possess hemp, use it, or take it across state lines.

The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill) expanded on the 2014 Farm Bill. The Act removed hemp from the list of controlled substances maintained by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It allowed financial institutions to process transactions from industrial hemp businesses and extend loan facilities to them. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, states are expected to enact laws legalizing hemp and propose industrial hemp production plans to obtain the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval. Hemp producers in states without hemp production plans can obtain hemp production licenses directly from the USDA under this Act.

In 2014, New Hampshire set up a committee to study the state's cultivation and sale of industrial hemp. In 2015, following the enactment of the 2014 Farm Bill, New Hampshire passed House Bill 421 to authorize the University of New Hampshire and any other institution of higher learning in New Hampshire to cultivate hemp for research purposes.

In 2019, House Bill 459 was passed by the New Hampshire General Court and signed into law by the New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. HB 459 defined hemp as an agricultural product and legalized its possession and use in the state. The Act also established a committee to determine if the state should create a regulatory agency to oversee hemp production. However, the state chose not to regulate the cultivation, processing, and sales of industrial hemp. Entities interested in producing hemp in New Hampshire must obtain hemp production licenses from the USDA.

What Hemp Products are Legal in New Hampshire?

Per HB 459, all hemp products, including hemp flowers, hemp fiber, hemp milk, hemp-derived CBD, and hemp oil, are legal in New Hampshire. However, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission prohibits using CBD, including hemp-derived CBD, as additives to food and beverages. Smoking hemp is also legal in New Hampshire but may be mistaken for marijuana which is illegal.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in New Hampshire?

No. Municipalities, cities, and counties in New Hampshire cannot restrict the cultivation or processing of hemp in their jurisdictions. There are no specific regulations in HB 459 authorizing local authorities to limit hemp operations within their territories.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process in New Hampshire

New Hampshire chose not to regulate industrial hemp within their state borders after legalizing it at the federal level. Persons or entities interested in growing hemp in New Hampshire must obtain hemp production licenses from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The eligibility criteria for applying for a USDA-issued hemp production license are:

  • Key participants of the business must not have been convicted of felony offenses related to controlled substances under state or federal law in the preceding 10 years before the application date
  • Applicants may only grow hemp for industrial purposes and not medical or recreational

Applicants may complete USDA hemp production license applications online through the USDA Hemp eManagement Platform (HeMP). To apply through the HeMP, applicants must create accounts on the portal. They may view the USDA eAuth sign-up video for instructions on the account creation process. Applications are accepted on the portal throughout the year on a rolling basis. Applicants and key participants in the hemp production processes must submit copies of FBI criminal history reports. Key participants are persons with financial interests in the hemp business and executive-level officers. Applicants may review the FBI criminal history report page for instructions on obtaining criminal history reports from the FBI. The FBI report must be dated within 60 days before the application submission date. Applicants may review the USDA HeMP User Guide for more information on the application process.

Successful applicants must submit their hemp acreage to the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Information to be submitted include their USDA license number, GPS location of the cultivation site, and description of the facility or land.

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

The USDA does not collect fees for issuing hemp production licenses, and the licenses are valid for 3 years. There are no additional fees for hemp production licenses in New Hampshire.

How to Grow Hemp in New Hampshire

Hemp plants can grow in most conditions. It is resilient and requires little supervision after the first few weeks. However, it is best cultivated during the frost-free season (May to September). The following steps will help assure optimal hemp harvest in New Hampshire:

  • Acquire good quality seeds: The quality of the seeds to be planted will determine the quality and quantity of yield. It is essential to source quality seeds from reliable merchants. The purpose of the hemp plant will guide the choice of seeds. The CBD-THC ratio of the seeds will determine the eventual ratio in the hemp yield
  • Select an appropriate grow site: The soil texture, temperature, and humidity are critical factors in growing hemp plants. Hemp is best grown in a well-aerated, nutrient-rich, high organic matter, loamy soil. The soil should be rich in potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. A soil pH of between 6.0 and 7.5 is best for hemp, while the soil temperature should be in the range of 46 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a good practice to test the soil before planting to be sure it is appropriate for hemp cultivation. Poor soil can be enriched with nitrogen-rich compost and manure
  • Plant the seeds: Hemp seeds can be planted directly on the grow site instead of first planting in a nursery. It is best to adhere to the instructions of the seed provider regarding planting the seeds. Generally, only dark brown seeds should be planted in shallow holes between 0.5 and 0.7 inches deep. The space between the plants is affected by the purpose of the hemp. Hemp plants meant to produce hemp seed or CBD should be well-spaced, while those intended for fiber should be close to one other
  • Water and maintain the plants: Hemp plants, in their first 6 weeks, require more water and sunlight than mature hemp plants. Typically, hemp will need about 20 - 30 inches of rainfall for optimal yield. Irrigation might be necessary if the rain is not adequate. There might be a need to apply insecticides and pesticides to keep diseases and insects away. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a list of approved pesticides that can be used on hemp plants. Hemp plants beyond 6 weeks require less care and monitoring
  • Harvest: Hemp plants with flowers and seeds indicate maturity. Hemp plants can be harvested between 70 and 150 days of planting in New Hampshire. The purpose of planting the hemp will determine the harvest period. Hemp grown for hemp fiber may be harvested in 70 days. Hemp intended for CBD production can be harvested in 120 - 140 days, while hemp cultivated for hemp seeds may be harvested in 110 days

The USDA National Hemp Report for 2021 indicates that floral hemp yields an average of 1,235 pounds per acre and 2,620 pounds per acre for fiber hemp in 2021. Hemp planted for hemp seed produced an average of 530 pounds per acre in 2021.

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in New Hampshire?

Hemp flowers are legal in New Hampshire and can be obtained from local stores, hemp shops, and online stores. Businesses can ship hemp flowers from other states, provided the THC content is not more than 0.3%. However, purchasing them from some stores might be challenging because of their similarity with marijuana.

Hemp vs THC

Hemp and THC are different. THC is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, including hemp. The amount of Delta-9 THC found in a cannabis plant is what legally defines the plant. A cannabis plant with 0.3% or less THC is hemp. THC is what causes the ‘high’ experienced by cannabis consumers. Because hemp only contains small amounts of THC, it is unlikely to get users high when consumed in moderate doses. Hemp-derived THC products are legal in New Hampshire, provided their delta-9 THC content is not more than 0.3%. Delta-8 THC products are also legal in the state.

Hemp vs CBD

CBD is one of the chemical compounds found in hemp. CBD does not induce euphoric and intoxicating effects like THC, and it is abundant in hemp. It can be used to treat or relieve medical conditions such as chronic pain, depression, nausea, and addiction. CBD can be made from hemp and marijuana but only hemp-derived CBD is permitted in New Hampshire. Hemp-derived CBD can be sold and bought by New Hampshire residents without physician recommendations.

Hemp Applications

Industrial hemp may be used for the following:

  • Textile: Hemp textiles are easy to manufacture, biodegradable, and multifunctional. They are more resistant to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation weather variations than cotton or silk. They may also be easily integrated with other materials to produce more comfortable clothing hybrids
  • Solar Panel: Industrial hemp can be used to produce more durable solar panels. Solar panels made from hemp fibers are considerably cheaper than those made from silicon or graphene
  • Fuel: Hemp oil can be used to produce biofuel and biodiesel, which are more affordable and ecologically friendly (it has no sulfur emissions). In addition, hemp biofuel can prolong the lifespan of automobiles due to its improved lubricating qualities
  • Building Materials: Hemp-based building materials called hempcrete are waterproof and resistant to fire. Their reduced cost, durability, and lightweight make them preferable for construction. Hempcrete can be used to replace concrete in some conditions
  • Cosmetics: Hemp oil has antioxidants, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins suitable for different skin textures. It nourishes and rejuvenates the skin
  • Paper: Hemp paper is made of pulp from industrial hemp fiber. Hemp has lower lignin content than wood. Hence making it cheaper to produce and with superior tear resistance. It is often used as specialty paper for papers like banknotes, filter papers, and cigarette paper
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