Kentucky Hemp Legislation

Kentucky’s Industrial Hemp Program 

In 2013 the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 50, a piece of legislation which laid the groundwork for the cultivation and sale of industrial hemp in Kentucky, pending the expected federal action. Just over a year later, the U.S. Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill, allowing hemp to be grown legally in all 50 states. Those states would be required to create a pilot program for hemp, but they were left to decide how to pursue hemp production with very little federal involvement.   

In June 2014, Kentucky farmers and Universities planted some of the first legal hemp crops since World War II.  Every year since, the Kentucky hemp industry has grown and evolved, and we continue to be leaders in investments, innovation, and legislation. 

2018 Farm Bill Legislation

The 2018 federal farm bill continued to the evolution of hemp as a new agricultural commodity.  It authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a new federal regulatory regime, and lessened, but did not eliminate the role of the Drug Enforcement Agency. In 2019, the USDA adopted an Interim Final Rule, which implemented many of the 2018 Farm Bill directives. However, the IFR had some problems, as KYHA pointed out in its comment letter. In fact, due to these issues, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture opted to continue its pilot program, rather than switch to the IFR regime.

2021 Legislative Issues 

Although Kentucky has come a long way since 2014, there are still several changes to state and federal laws that could potentially improve the viability of the hemp industry. We have identified some of the most important issues for the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly, and hope to accomplish these goals quickly, to give Kentucky farmers and processors the greater advantage in marketing their hemp crop across the U.S. 

  1. Legalizing the sale of Craft Hemp Flower: Currently Kentucky law does not allow the sale of hemp flower within its borders. However, Kentucky farmers may sell hemp flower to customers in legal hemp states that allow the sale of hemp flower. Many of our farmers are missing out on a huge market because it’s difficult to find out of state locations and processors to sell their crops.  
  2. Increase the THC limit to 1% for finished products: For historical reasons, federal law defines any hemp to be cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. KYHA believes this 0.3% threshold to be excessively low. The KYHA, and a growing number of industry players, support raising the THC limit to 1%. This level will allow farmers to have a safety net in their attempt to produce hemp and stay federally compliant, while allowing for superior genetics and varieties to flourish. 
  3. Reduction in regulatory processes and fees: Current fees schedules and legal requirements are still burdensome and put a great deal of responsibility on farm families and small businesses. The KYHA is constantly working toward a reduction in regulatory burden for farmers, as well as an improvement in the financial obligations of hemp farmers and processors. In addition, current law requires total destruction of non-compliant crops that test over 1% total THC, which can wreak financial havoc on farmers, often through no fault of their own. KYHA supports modifications that would allow farmers to undertake alternative remediation, such as utilization of the fiber, that would be more economically viable.

2021 Legislative Action Items 

We are asking all stakeholders, consumers, or fans of the hemp industry to get involved at their local level to help improve hemp laws, regulations and legislation as quickly as possible. Email to see how you can get involved.

Hemp Legislation FAQs

What is the purpose of Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill?

Section 7606 effectively legalized the production of hemp in all 50 states as part of a Hemp Pilot Program.  Each state would have to set up their own legal and regulatory framework for hemp production and would do so either as a State Department of Agriculture or a University.  In Kentucky, this meant that farmers could partner with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to do research and market hemp that they grew themselves.  It also allowed our institutes of higher education to begin research into cultivation, economics, chemistry, and standards. 

What states currently allow the production of industrial hemp?

All but 3 states currently allow the cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp.  We look forward to the day when all 50 states will be producing this versatile and bountiful crop. 

I am a Kentucky farmer and would like to grow/process/manufacture hemp. Does the Farm Bill authorize me to grow hemp in Kentucky?

In order to grow hemp in Kentucky, all growers and processors must be licensed by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Regulations and documents regarding hemp production and news from KDA can be found here. The licensing portal may be found here

Do I need a DEA permit to grow hemp?

If you are licensed by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to grow hemp in the state of Kentucky, you do not need a DEA permit to grow hemp. 

Are there any rules or regulations that I must follow in order to grow hemp? 

Anyone authorized by the state to conduct research must follow Kentucky regulations AND Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill. Varieties of cannabis with more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis are not authorized under Section 7606. 


KYHA consists of members who are involved in hemp research, advocacy, legislation, farming, processing, product development, manufacturing, distribution, marketing and education. If you have questions about joining the KYHA, please contact


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