Unreliable hemp seed suppliers pose a risk to farmers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC) is warning the public against predatory hemp seed sellers known to be currently active in the state.

This year marks the first time that hemp will be grown in Indiana as a cash crop, not a research crop, said Donald Robison, OISC seed administrator. This means the number of hemp growers in the state is increasing, as are reports of faulty seeds and unreliable sellers.

In some cases, Robison said, people pay for the seeds and the product never gets delivered. In other cases, the product does not match what the label promises. With hemp in particular, this can be a problem as many buyers end up growing marijuana, not hemp.

“The legal limit for THC (one of the psychoactive properties of marijuana) in hemp seeds in Indiana is 0.3%,” Robison said. “We recently saw a situation where the buyer thought he was buying and growing hemp, but instead he grew a crop with 17% THC.”

In this case, the state police intervened, seized and destroyed the crop. Any seller selling to customers in Indiana, whether the company is state-based or not, must comply with the Indiana Seed Act, which requires companies to obtain a seed license. Obtaining this permit also means that the seller agrees to comply with state regulations regarding the labeling of seeds.

“Getting licensed means you agree to have your seeds tested to make sure what’s on the label is correct,” Robison said. “This means the seed is tested for percent purity, percent noxious weed, percent germination, and in the case of hemp, percent THC.”

A list of authorized suppliers is available on the OISC website.

Robison recommended those interested in growing hemp to buy only from this list. Although it is legal to buy from unauthorized suppliers, the consumer has fewer protections.

“If they use and buy on the list and something’s wrong, we can help protect them,” Robison said. “That’s what we’re here for. If the seed label is incorrect, but the seller has a permit, we can go through arbitration and help both parties reach a settlement. Alternatively, if a farmer steals genetics from a supplier or doesn’t pay their bill, we can help protect the supplier.

Robison urged those considering purchasing from unlicensed vendors to notify OISC which vendor they are using and if any issues arise.

“We also want to know if there are any issues with authorized vendors,” Robison said.

Since hemp and those who grow it are no longer protected by its status as a research crop, Robison explained that the fallout from growing faulty hemp seeds could be more severe than in the past.

“If the crop is ‘hot’, containing more than the legal limit of THC, there will be a lot more legal issues that will arise,” he said.

Writer: Emma Ea Ambrose, 765-494-2406, [email protected]

Source: Donald Robinson, 765-494-1557, [email protected]

Agricultural communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Head of Department, [email protected]

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