Delaware Hemp Overview

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What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant containing popular cannabinoids like THC and CBD. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive compound responsible for the intoxicating effects associated with marijuana. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp may only contain a low THC content, typically 0.3% or less by dry weight. Unlike hemp, marijuana, another Cannabis sativa variant, has high concentrations of THC, usually more than 25% depending on the strain.

Marijuana and hemp look similar and have medicinal uses. However, hemp is a versatile plant with several industrial applications, so it is sometimes called industrial hemp. Hemp fiber is commonly used in paper, textile, and construction industries. Other parts of hemp, such as hemp seeds, plants, and flowers, may be processed into food and skincare products. Other hemp parts and common hemp-derived products include the following:

  • Hemp oil, derived by cold-pressing hemp seeds, does not contain cannabinoids like CBD and THC. Apart from its antioxidant properties, hemp oil is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health and overall well-being
  • Hemp hearts or hulled hemp seeds are the soft inner 'part of the hemp seeds. They are suitable to eat raw or included as supplements in smoothies, salads, and other healthy meals
  • Hemp milk is a plant-based milk alternative made by blending hemp seeds with water. Consumers can include sweeteners or flavorings. It can be consumed raw, poured over cereal, added to coffee or tea, and used in recipes for baking or cooking
  • Hemp extract is derived from hemp through CO2 extraction or ethanol extraction. It is commonly used to produce a wide range of CBD products, such as oils, tinctures, capsules, topicals, and edibles

Is Hemp Legal in Delaware?

Yes, hemp is legal in Delaware. It is considered a valuable agricultural resource under Delaware Code Title 3. In 2014, the US Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill (Agricultural Act of 2014), permitting states to set up pilot programs regulating the production of hemp for research purposes. The 2014 Farm Bill also distinguished between hemp and marijuana by defining hemp as a cannabis plant containing no more than 0.3% THC.

Hemp became legal in Delaware after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The measure removed hemp from the DEA's controlled substance list and allowed states, including Delaware, to create regulations for hemp cultivation. To align with the two federal hemp laws, Delaware Governor approved House Bill 385 in 2014 and Senate Bill 266 in 2018. The bills allowed residents to possess, purchase, use, and transport hemp within and outside the state. In 2019, the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) created regulations for commercial hemp cultivators, processors, and handlers. Before cultivating or processing hemp, interested persons must register under the DDA's Domestic Hemp Production Program.

What Hemp Products Are Legal in Delaware?

All hemp-derived products with no more than 0.3% THC are legal in Delaware. However, hemp-derived THC isomers such as Delta-8 and Delta-10 are still illegal in the state. Residents may cultivate or process hemp into foods and edibles provided they have relevant licenses from the Department of Agriculture.

Delaware does not prohibit the possession or consumption of smokable hemp flowers. However, smoking hemp in public in Delaware is unlawful. Although hemp does not produce psychoactive effects, motorists are prohibited from smoking hemp flowers while operating their vehicles.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Delaware?

No. Hemp cultivation and processing are legal under state and federal laws. As a result, no municipality in Delaware cannot restrict hemp cultivation. However, they can create zoning ordinances to designate specific areas for hemp cultivation.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process Hemp in Delaware

The Delaware Department of Agriculture issues grower, processor, and handler licenses to interested entities or individuals. Generally, individual applicants must be 18 years or older and not have a felony conviction related to controlled substances.

Grower's License

Delaware farmers interested in cultivating and distributing hemp can apply for growers' licenses using the following steps.

  • Complete the DDA Hemp Producer Application

  • Request for FBI Criminal History Report online. When applying online, search for the 'Mailing Address' section and include the following address.

    Delaware Department of Agriculture

    Attn: Hemp Program

    2320 South DuPont Highway

    Dover, DE 19901

After completing the request, applicants will receive FBI confirmation emails which must be submitted along with other forms

  • Complete the Growing Site Registration forms for Outdoor or Indoor hemp cultivation. Also, include maps showing the GPS coordinates of the grow sites

  • Indicate an Authorized Representative under the Producer Application. Note that authorized representatives must also request their criminal history report from the FBI

  • Submit all the necessary documents between November 1 to February 1 via mail to or in person at:

    Delaware Department of Agriculture

    Attn: Hemp Program

2320 South DuPont Highway

Dover, DE 19901

Processor's License

To convert raw hemp into consumable products in Delaware, hemp growers and other interested parties may apply for the processor's license by following the steps below:

  • Complete the Hemp Processor Application
  • Request for FBI Criminal History Report
  • Complete the Processing Facility Registration Form. Maps of the processing facilities must also be submitted together with other documents
  • Provide details of key participants and attach their criminal history reports
  • Submit all required documentation to the Delaware Department of Agriculture by mail. Applications must be submitted no later than October 31

Handler's License

This is for business entities or individuals transporting or storing hemp and other hemp-derived products. Interested persons must complete and submit the Hemp Handler Application to the DDA mail address to apply. Applicants must also request their criminal history report from the FBI.

The DDA usually reviews all application documents before issuing a provisional license number to applicants. Applications may be revoked if applicants' criminal history report reveals felony convictions.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Delaware?

The costs of obtaining hemp grower, processor, or handler licenses in Delaware are listed below:

  • Hemp Grower License
    • Application fee: $300
    • Grow site registration fee: $500 per site
  • Hemp Processor License
    • Application fee: $300
    • Facility registration fee: $1000
  • Hemp Handler License
    • Application fee: $100

Application fees are valid for three years, while facility or grow site registration fees are only valid for one year. Money orders or checks for these fees must be attached to the application forms during submission.

How to Grow Hemp in Delaware

Hemp growers in Delaware can start cultivation after obtaining the DDA's license. Before planting, licensed hemp farmers must obtain high-quality hemp seeds or clones from reputable sources. Ensure the seeds or clones are derived from certified hemp cultivars that comply with DDA's seed certification requirements. Once the hemp seeds are available, hemp farmers can start the site preparation process, which typically involves soil testing, land clearing, tilling, and soil amendment if necessary.

Licensed hemp growers in Delaware should consider the following conditions necessary for hemp plants to thrive:

  • Hemp grows best in loose, well-aerated soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.5
  • Planting should take place between March and May when the climatic condition is moderate, with temperatures ranging between 60°F (15°C) and 80°F (27°C)
  • Hemp seeds should be planted at a depth of around 0.75 to 1.5 inches. However, the depth may vary based on soil conditions and seed size
  • The recommended spacing between hemp plants typically ranges from 4 to 6 feet apart in rows. This spacing allows sufficient airflow and light penetration, reducing disease risk and promoting healthy plant growth
  • The cultivation site should enjoy adequate sunlight for at least 6 to 8 hours per day. Indoor farmers may use artificial lighting systems to provide the necessary light for their plants
  • Hemp plants require about 20-30 inches of rainfall or irrigation throughout the season. Where rainfall is not adequate, farmers can adopt irrigation systems
  • Use EPA-approved pesticides for hemp plants

Generally, hemp seeds begin to sprout after five to seven days but mature fully after three to four months. Before the expected harvest, hemp farmers in Delaware must complete and submit the Hemp Sampling Request Form to the DDA. The DDA often collects samples to test the hemp plant's THC concentration before allowing farmers to harvest them.

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Delaware?

Smokable hemp flower is legal in Delaware and can be purchased at local stores and from online retailers. Some online retailers outside Delaware can deliver hemp flowers and other hemp-derived products to buyers, provided such products contain no more than 0.3% THC. There are no restrictions on the amount of hemp flowers that residents can buy. Nevertheless, some stores may not sell hemp flowers to persons under 18 years.

Hemp vs THC

Hemp and THC are related terms that refer to different aspects of the cannabis plant. Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species, while THC is a psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant.

Generally, hemp products contain trace amounts of THC and do not produce high sensations when consumed. Such products are legal for production and consumption in Delaware.

Hemp vs CBD

Hemp and CBD (cannabidiol) are not the same. Typically extracted from hemp flowers in high concentrations, CBD does not produce psychoactive effects when consumed as oils, edibles, or capsules. Hemp, on the other hand, is a cannabis plant that has other applications apart from therapeutic uses. In Delaware, hemp-derived CBD products are legal for residents.

Hemp Applications

Hemp's versatile nature offers a plethora of uses in other sectors apart from the healthcare industry. Here are some major hemp applications in Delaware:

  • In the construction industry, hemp fibers are used to produce sustainable and environmentally-friendly building materials. An example is Hempcrete, a mixture of hemp fibers, lime, and water, used as an alternative to traditional concrete for insulation and construction purposes
  • Hemp oil derived from pressed hemp seeds is a good source of biofuel. Known as hemp biodiesel, hemp-derived biofuel is a renewable and clean-burning fuel often used in diesel engines without modifications
  • Hemp paper, another product derived from hemp fibers, is known for its durability, strength, and resistance to yellowing. It requires fewer chemicals and less water than traditional paper production, making it a more environmentally friendly option
  • Hemp fibers are also used to produce textiles, clothing, apparel, and accessories
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