State grants hemp licenses

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Agriculture has issued the first licenses to growers under the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program.

In June, three industrial hemp licenses were issued to Raymond Maki of Kilauea, 10 acres, and Gail Baber and Thomas Pace, both of Hawaii Island, 10 acres each.

Each license is valid for two years as long as the licensee complies with the program rules, including submission of annual fees of $250 plus a $2 per acre assessment. The time from planting to harvest is estimated to be anywhere from three to six months.

“Hawaii’s first licensed hemp growers will help to demonstrate the real potential of the industrial hemp industry,” said Gov. David Ige. “We look forward to the entrepreneurial spirit that will help to invigorate and strengthen agriculture across the state.”

A total of 10 applications have been received by HDOA’s Quality Assurance Branch since the program began in April. HDOA will continue to process applications and issue licenses to qualified applicants on a quarterly basis.

“With this new agricultural crop, the program aims to monitor and assess the best methods of cultivation in Hawaii’s growing conditions,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The program will also follow the crop from seed to the development, manufacturing and marketing of hemp products.”

Growers will be required to submit extensive reports on planting, harvesting and movement of their industrial hemp crop. In addition, the research nature of the pilot program requires that licensees track items such as production costs including pest management, water usage, security measures, labor, marketing and other cost factors.

Routine sampling, testing for THC and pesticides and inspections of crops will also be mandatory during this program.

In granting licenses, HDOA considers several factors, including agriculturally zoned land; legitimate research plan; best management plan for growing of hemp; and a laboratory provisionally certified or certified by the Hawaii Department of Health to test cannabis and that is willing to collect samples from the growing location.

“June 2018 will be remembered as a historic month for Hawaii’s farmers,” said state Sen. Mike Gabbard. “In the coming years, it’s likely we’ll see our state become a leader in industrial hemp production and witness a cottage industry being developed around this incredible crop. Mahalo to the governor and HDOA for helping get us to this point.”

Maki could not be reached for comment Friday.

3 Comments
  1. james July 8, 2018 7:41 am Reply

    Why should anyone need a license to grow industrial hemp? It’s not a drug. Stupidest law ever.


  2. manawai July 8, 2018 8:17 am Reply

    I wonder why we think we can grow hemp cheaper than, or at least competitively with, the four mainland States including California, that are already growing it. How did we fare with sugar cane? How will be afford to ship it out-of-state to where industrial users? (Jones Act) Add to this the extensive governmental regulation, taxation and the requirements outlined above, the costs to grow this crop, in my opinion, will far exceed what mainland and foreign growers will face. Besides, the DEA still considers it illegal.


  3. RG DeSoto July 8, 2018 10:16 am Reply

    Since hemp does not have any of the so-called “dangerous” drug THC, just why does the state have to stick its big nose in what should be a private endeavor? If history teaches anything it’s that the state–any government for that matter–will do nothing except screw things up.
    RG DeSoto


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