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Guidance and Issues Regarding Hemp Production in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture's regulatory role with industrial hemp is limited to registration of growers and inspection of crops. The state of Tennessee has no jurisdiction over many other factors that producers will face. While Tennessee legalized the production of industrial hemp (Cannabis spp), growing it is still considered illegal under federal law. The following issues may cause concern for those interested in growing this crop in Tennessee.

  • Seed Procurement/Seed Quality - The Act requires seed used for the production of hemp in Tennessee to be certified. Seed that currently may exist in Tennessee may be variable and have unknown THC levels and none is currently certified. Random sampling of hemp fields will be conducted. Plant samples testing at levels higher than 0.3% THC will be in violation of the Act. Importation of viable industrial hemp seed across state lines and country boundaries is illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
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  • Pesticides - There are no pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.) currently registered for use on Cannabis spp. (industrial hemp and marijuana) due to the predominant federal nature of pesticide regulation.
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  • Federal Farm Programs - Federal farm programs such as crop insurance, farm loans and conservation reserve may be jeopardized if industrial hemp is planted; these programs are managed by USDA. Contact a lawyer for legal advice.
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  • Banking - Although the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently issued guidance on bank involvement with Cannabis operations, banks including state-chartered banks may be reluctant to provide services to Cannabis growers for fear of being prosecuted for federal laws and regulations violations.
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  • Processing - Tennessee's industrial hemp rules will require that industrial hemp producers must provide documentation of in-state processing as part of registration. It is unknown at this time how many processing facilities will be available in Tennessee at time of harvest next year.