California bans drug felons in hemp production to comply with federal rules

California instituted a 10-year ban on drug felons growing hemp, a move state authorities say is required by the federal law that legalized the crop.

The ban, issued by California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, makes people convicted of drug felonies ineligible to receive state hemp-cultivation licenses for a decade.

The emergency rule was issued along with a state notice making the rule effective immediately to ensure the state is in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill and eligible to receive permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate its own hemp industry.

Federal application on California’s part was a requirement under a state hemp law passed last fall. The measure means that while many hemp-producing states plan to wait until after the 2020 harvest to win federal approval, California must apply by May 1.

“Without procedures for compliance with federal law, registered growers and breeders will not be able to comply with federal requirements,” California’s notice states.

“This would limit the amount of domestic hemp available to product producers and result in higher prices to California consumers if California is not contributing to the domestic hemp supply.”

The California rule also requires farmers to register their hemp production locations with county authorities.