Hawaii Lawmakers Unanimously Pass Bill to Legalize HempHawaii’s full House of Representatives has given unanimous approval to legislation that would explicitly legalize the cultivation, production and distribution of hemp in the state.

The measure – House Bill 2555 – now heads to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass.

Under the proposed law, introduced by Representative Kaniela Ing (D-Kihei) with 34 cosponsors, those wanting to cultivate hemp will be legally authorized to do so, as long as they receive a license from the state’s Department of Agriculture.

“Farmers called for the legalization of industrial hemp, and I am ecstatic to help answer that call”, says Rep. Ing, who calls the measure “the most robust industrial hemp bill being considered this year,” saying it follows models in Kentucky and Colorado.

The full text of House Bill 2555 (seen below) can be found by clicking here.



SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that mankind has cultivated hemp as a source of food and fiber for thousands of years.  Modern production methods have utilized hemp’s oilseed to make high-grade food and beauty products.  The stalks produce fiber and cellulose for everything from automotive parts and fine clothing to building materials and fuel.

According to estimates by the Hemp Industries Association, retail sales of industrial hemp products in the United States have grown steadily since 1990 to more than $580,000,000 annually in 2013.

California manufacturers of hemp products currently import tens of thousands of acres’ worth of hemp seed, oil, and fiber products that, instead, could be produced by American farmers at a more competitive price.  Additionally, the intermediate processing of hemp seed, oil, food ingredients, and fiber could create jobs in close proximity to the fields of cultivation.

The legislature further finds that support for industrial hemp farming is occurring at the national level.

California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia have defined industrial hemp as a distinct agricultural crop and removed barriers to its production.

President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law (Agricultural Act of 2014), under which section 7606 authorizes industrial hemp research and pilot programs in states that regulate hemp farming under the authority of the state department of agriculture.

Farmers and universities in Colorado, Kentucky, and Vermont have already planted hemp crops to conduct pilot programs after registering with their state department of agriculture.

This Act is part of a package to ease the transition of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company’s thirty-six thousand acres of sugarcane land on the island of Maui to diversified agriculture.

The purpose of this Act is to authorize industrial hemp to be grown as part of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural research to study the growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp under specific agreement with and under the authority of the department of agriculture, pursuant to a memorandum of understanding.

SECTION 2.  Chapter 141, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:


  • 141-    Definitions.  As used in this part:

“Board” means the board of agriculture.

“Chairperson” means the chairperson of the board of agriculture.

“Harvested industrial hemp” shall not include industrial hemp that has been processed or manufactured into a hemp product.

“Industrial hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 per cent on a dry weight basis, that is cultivated in connection with an institution of higher education, the department of agriculture, a registered seed breeder, or an approved seed cultivar as authorized by this part.

“Institution of higher education” means a public or private institution of higher learning as defined in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. §1001).

“Registered seed breeder” means an individual or public or private institution or organization that is registered with the chairperson to develop seed cultivars intended for sale or research.

“Seed cultivar” means a variety of industrial hemp.

“Variety” means a group or individual plants that exhibit the same observable physical characteristics or have the same genetic composition.

  • 141-    Growing of industrial hemp for research purposes; registration. (a)  Except when grown by an institution of higher education or by a registered seed breeder developing a new Hawaii seed cultivar, industrial hemp shall be grown only if it is on the list of approved seed cultivars.  The board may from time to time add or remove any seed cultivar from the list.

(b)  The list of approved seed cultivars shall include the following:

(1)  Industrial hemp seed cultivars that have been certified by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and

(2)  Hawaii varieties of industrial hemp seed cultivars that have been certified by the board.

(c)  Before cultivation, a grower of industrial hemp shall register with the board to engage in industrial hemp cultivation and request that the board certify the site where the hemp will be grown.  The application for registration shall include the following information:

(1)  The name, business address, and mailing address of the applicant;

(2)  The legal description, global positioning system coordinates, and map of the land area on which the applicant plans to engage in industrial hemp cultivation or storage; and

(3)  The approved seed cultivar to be grown and a description of the proposed research to be conducted.

The application shall be accompanied by a registration fee, to be established by rule, which shall be used to cover the costs of implementing, administering, and enforcing this part.  The registration shall be valid for two years, after which the registered grower may renew the registration and pay the renewal fee, to be established by rule.

(d)  If the chairperson determines that the requirements for registration pursuant to this section are satisfied, the chairperson shall enter into a memorandum of understanding or a contract with the applicant and issue a registration to the applicant.

(e)  A registered grower that wishes to alter the land area on which the registered grower conducts industrial hemp cultivation or storage, before altering the area, shall submit to the chairperson an updated legal description, global positioning system coordinates, and map specifying the proposed alteration.  If the chairperson receives and approves the updated information, the chairperson shall notify the registered grower in writing that the registered grower may cultivate industrial hemp on the altered land area.

(f)  A registered grower that wishes to change the seed cultivar grown shall submit to the chairperson the name of the new, approved seed cultivar to be grown.  If the chairperson receives and approves the change to the registration, the chairperson shall notify the registered grower in writing that the registered grower may cultivate the new seed cultivar.

  • 141-    Registered grower status.  Each registered grower shall operate under the authority of the department of agriculture for the limited purposes of this section pursuant to a memorandum of understanding.  No registered grower shall be considered an employee of the State or entitled to retention points, service credit, vacation and sick leave credits, and other rights, benefits, and privileges, in accordance with state personnel laws solely because of that registered grower’s participation in the industrial hemp program.
  • 141-    Selling industrial hemp; requirements.  (a)  A registered grower may sell harvested industrial hemp to any person engaged in agribusiness or other manufacturing for the purpose of processing or manufacturing the industrial hemp into hemp products.

(b)  A registered grower who sells any harvested industrial hemp shall:

(1)  Retain all industrial hemp production records for at least three years;

(2)  Allow industrial hemp crops, throughout sowing, growing, and harvesting, to be inspected by and at the discretion of the board or its designees and law enforcement officers;

(3)  File with the board documentation indicating that the industrial hemp seeds planted were of a type and variety certified to have no more tetrahydrocannabinol concentration than that allowed by federal law;

(4)  Maintain records of the sale of any harvested industrial hemp grown under the registration and the names and addresses of the persons to whom the harvested industrial hemp was sold, the weight of the harvested industrial hemp sold, and the price per pound paid for the harvested industrial hemp; and

(5)  Maintain records of any contracts between the registered grower and any person to whom the harvested industrial hemp was sold, to be inspected by and at the discretion of the board, designees of the board, and law enforcement officers.

  • 141-    Prohibited activities. The possession outside of a field of lawful cultivation of resin, flowering tops, or leaves that have been removed from the hemp plant shall be prohibited; provided that the presence of a de minimis amount, or insignificant number, of hemp leaves or flowering tops in hemp bales that result from the normal and appropriate processing of industrial hemp shall not constitute possession of an illegal substance.
  • 141-    Authorized activity not a criminal offense.  (a)  The possession, cultivation, sale, receipt, or transfer of industrial hemp as authorized under this part shall not constitute an offense under chapter 712, part IV.

(b)  The transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp that is grown or cultivated in accordance with section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, within or outside the State, shall not constitute an offense under chapter 712, part IV.

  • 141-    Rulemaking and board authority. (a)  The board may adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 necessary for the purposes of this part.

(b)  The board may apply for a registration with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration to import certified hemp seed for distribution to registered growers who have entered into a memorandum of understanding with the board.”

SECTION 3.  Chapter 141, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by designating sections 141-1 to 141-11 as “Part I. General Provisions”.

SECTION 4.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $         or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2016-2017 for the establishment of one full-time equivalent (1.00 FTE) position in the department of agriculture to effectuate this Act.

The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of agriculture for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 5.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2016.

Report Title:

Industrial Hemp; Private Growers; Authorization; Appropriation


Authorizes the Board of Agriculture to regulate the growing of industrial hemp for research purposes.  Requires the regulation of growers selling industrial hemp.  Makes an appropriation. (HB2555 HD1)

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