Industrial Hemp Farms Get Approval in Santa Clara County

by Madelyn Reese

Although the cultivation of industrial hemp in California does not yet have federal approval, Santa Clara County has approved guidelines to get farmers rolling as soon they get the green light.

Supervisors added industrial hemp regulations to the county’s zoning ordinance Aug. 25, making regulation of the crop a part of county code.

Supervisors unanimously approved hemp farms up to 250 acres in size with a quarter-mile buffer from residential areas, schools and other areas considered sensitive. Other regulations include a 200-foot setback from public and private rights of ways, posting hemp operation signs and compulsory testing of THC levels in plants. THC is the compound that gives pot its high.

Passage of the federal 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the government’s list of controlled substances and allows it to be cultivated lawfully for registered growers across the country. But there’s more paperwork to make this a reality. Every state has to submit its own regulation plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval, and California has not yet received approval for its plan.

That hasn’t stopped county planners from preparing regulations to permit the cultivation, research, and processing of hemp. Industrial hemp, under federal law, is required to contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Anything higher, according to the federal government, and that hemp is considered marijuana and remains a Schedule I controlled substance, which is illegal on the federal level.

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