DNR Releases Updated Regulations, Opening the Door for Industrial Hemp Production
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on October 5 released updated regulations that open the door for industrial hemp production in Alaska and create a state-directed “endorsement” program through which industrial hemp products can be made and sold in Alaska.
State Becomes Regulator, Supporter
With updated regulations for the Alaska Industrial Hemp Program, the state takes on primary authority over regulation and production from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), simplifying the application and registration process and expressly prohibiting the sale of hemp products containing delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or non-naturally occurring cannabinoids.
Industrial hemp is derived from cannabis plants that have a lower concentration of psychoactive chemicals than commercially regulated marijuana. Industrial hemp is used for a variety of purposes, including incorporation into products intended for human or animal consumption.
The Alaska Industrial Hemp Program, housed within DNR’s Division of Agriculture, is intended to grow the knowledge of how industrial hemp production, cultivation, and marketing may increase agricultural production in Alaska and contribute to the state’s economy. The program also tests and approves—or “endorses”—which industrial hemp products may be manufactured and sold in Alaska and collects comprehensive reports from all growers that are shared with the USDA. Examples of industrial hemp products include paper, ropes, linens, textiles for clothes, and CBD oil or lotion.
“These revised industrial hemp rules increase safety for Alaskan children and protections for the regulated cannabis industry in our state,” says DNR Commissioner John Boyle. “The Industrial Hemp Program was never intended to allow intoxicating products, which are rightfully regulated for the recreational market in Alaska by the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office.”
Authorized by the Alaska Legislature in 2018, the Division of Agriculture designed and conducted a pilot industrial hemp program supported by the US Department of Agriculture’s Hemp Production Program. The division identified what varieties of hemp were best suited to commercial cultivation in Alaska, created a registry of hemp farming/manufacturing/retail operations in the state, and issued the original regulations in 2019.
The regulation updates include: Removing all language referring to a “pilot” program; streamlining application and registration processes; making it illegal for growers, manufacturers, and retailers in Alaska to sell industrial hemp products containing delta-9 THC intended for human or animal consumption; confirming that the Division of Agriculture will not endorse any industrial hemp product containing delta-9 THC; and various other conforming updates.
Become an Industry Sponsor
“I’m proud of the Division of Agriculture team who undertook a comprehensive review of the original industrial hemp pilot program regulations, listened to industry and public comments, incorporated their feedback, and modernized the regulations,” says Bryan Scoresby, director of the Division of Agriculture. “Adopting updated regulations eliminates a gray area in Alaska law, better reflects the intent of the Industrial Hemp Program, and will protect the health and safety of Alaskans.”
The new regulations go into effect on November 3, 2023.