Finding solutions that simplify the licensing, inspection and oversight of hemp cultivation
From California’s Silicon Valley, through the Midwest, and into Florida’s verdant farmlands, hemp is advancing rapidly, a trend that has prompted regulators and businesses to seek out new tools to monitor and manage the developing market.
After its legalization through the 2018 Farm Bill analysts have high expectations for the $1.1 billion industry that is expected to more than double its worth by 2020. Hemp farming is currently underway in 24 states, U.S. hemp acreage has tripled between 2017 and 2018, and there are currently more than 25,000 hemp-based products already in circulating in the market. Some, like Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried even thinks market predictions may exceed expectations, telling the Washington Post on July 8 that she believed state farmers could move from oranges to hemp, and make crop yields jump to $20,000 an acre.
“I’m seeing it as at least a $5 billion industry,” Fried said, speaking of hemp production in Florida alone.
Yet with this boom, agencies and businesses have new challenges. Hemp cultivation, processing and business operations must be monitored, licensed and regulated. Governments need to manage new hemp data in the form of planting reports, crop test results, and investigate complaints for non-compliance. This calls for modern solutions that can adapt to the industry even as its regulatory structure evolves at the national, state and local levels.
The emerging regulatory environment calls for a digital solution that can handle more than a cannabis business application, but accommodates regulatory demands from seed to sale, tracking cultivation, storage, transportation, the disposition of hemp crops and more. For these reasons, Accela announced the release of Accela Hemp Licensing in June, a solution that is part of our Civic Solution for Cannabis Regulation and builds off statewide deployments in California and Michigan, and in metropolitan cities like Los Angeles.
“Given that hemp is controlled differently than other species of cannabis, cities and states need a purpose-built solution with advanced functionality to effectively navigate this new era of regulation,” said Greg Felix, vice president of strategic solutions at Accela. “The Accela Hemp Licensing solution makes managing the nuances of this emerging industry easier for everyone, from law enforcement to state agencies to growers to businesses, as hemp-derived Cannabidiol (CBD) products spread across the country.”
Accela Hemp Licensing automates multiple manual processes, making agencies more efficient. With a full-featured suite of licensing, regulation and reporting tools, Accela Hemp Licensing is the complete solution for agencies charged with hemp oversight.
Governments considering potential regulatory tools, whether Accela or others, should look for a solution that offers a few essential benefits. We have posted them below based on the development of Accela Hemp Licensing and based on customer experience using Accela’s Civic Solution for Cannabis to regulate medical and recreational marijuana.
Essential benefits to look for in hemp licensing:
1. Automated Manual Processes
Agencies taking on hemp regulation can quickly become overwhelmed with the licensing process. Fortunately, digital licensing automates many of the manual tasks of reviewing and approving license applications and renewals, freeing staff members to focus on critical issues, not the mundane. Automated workflows simplify and streamline the review process, saving agencies time and money.
2. More Effective Field Inspections
Time-crunched field inspectors need to be as efficient as possible. A solution should have a mobile app, or apps, that are fully GIS-integrated to quickly find exact farm and field locations. Inspectors should have full access to the database and be able to upload photo, video, or text documentation during an inspection. Online or offline, inspectors should have be able to perform their duties quickly and efficiently regardless of location or mobile connectivity.
3. Enhance Customer Service
Hemp cultivators often work long hours, with little free time. A digital solution should open your agency up for business 24/7, from any location. An online portal can help applicants initiate an application, check the status of an existing application, pay fees, renew a license, or upload required documentation. And with full mobile access, mobile solutions should make it easy for cultivators to engage with your agency from anywhere, anytime they have a few minutes available.
4. Maintain Oversight
Digital hemp licensing and regulatory systems should deliver a wealth of information agencies can use to maintain oversight of hemp operations in their state. With a powerful set of reporting tools available, agencies should be able to quickly see the number of licensed growers or processors of hemp, number of acres currently planted, number of acres planned, locations planted, infractions, citizen complaints, or other valuable information.
5. Share Data with Law Enforcement
Further, a digital hemp solution should empower law enforcement agents to have 24/7 access to hemp cultivation data to verify cultivators are legal and licensed. Data sharing across agencies protects legal operators while discouraging illegal grows.