Is It OK to Grow Under Someone Else’s License?

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1/23/2019 – We have been getting this question more since some companies or growers have started advertising for farmers to grow hemp under the license of an established grower or company. And it’s one we frankly have avoided. But, the program rules state “(a) A license to cultivate industrial hemp in North Carolina issued by the Industrial Hemp Commission shall allow the license holder to obtain seed pursuant to these Rules for planting, possess seed for planting, cultivate the crop, harvest plant parts, possess and store harvested plant parts, and transport plant parts to a market for sale.  It seems reasonable that employees of a license holder would operate under the license holder. Clearly, there are formal and legally set up partnerships or cooperatives that are not addressed in the rules. The writers of the rules did not intend to allow anyone to grow hemp under another person’s license for the sole purpose of avoiding the process, fees, bonafide farmer certification, or attesting to having no felonies in the past 10 years or prior drug convictions. None of the licenses are in company names, they are all in individual names.
What would I consider if I were to share a license with someone? First, it would have to be someone I know and trust. This point would have been even more important before the new farm bill but is still relevant. What if the person whose license I was growing under had his license revoked during the season…where does that leave me? What if someone was growing for me and got caught growing marijuana…my license would be revoked and I may not be allowed another license.
And yes, licenses will likely be required in the future after all the rules are established and approved by the USDA. Each state will have a hemp program, approved by the USDA, and THC testing will be part of that. For the state to do THC testing they have to have information about the grower and farm. Whereas we do not know what NC will do, states may make some aspects of their program more restrictive than the federal program. Because the “sharing of licenses” has become so open, I believe that new NC rules will clarify who can and cannot operate under a license or registration
As in many things hemp, there are gray areas in which people take risks with no consequences. Then, unfortunately, the word spreads that the gray area is ok, when it’s really not.