Industrial Hemp Remains Illegal to Cultivate In Maryland Until Final Regulations and Research Programs Finalized
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In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly first passed legislation allowing for the development of an Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in the state. That program was recently updated this year by House Bill (HB) 698 to allow farmers contracting with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) or Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) in Maryland to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. Production of hemp under the program must further either agricultural or academic research. While HB 698 becomes effective on July 1, MDA is currently developing regulations and applications required under this new law and IHE have not had sufficient time to develop research programs for industrial hemp production, which conform to the regulations. Until then, any grower attempting to produce industrial hemp in Maryland is still producing it illegally and faces potential criminal penalties.