Idaho may soon become 50th state to legalize industrial hemp

    BRIEF

    The Senate in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021.
    The Senate in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

    Both chambers of the Idaho Legislature passed a bill that would legalize the production, processing, research and transportation of industrial hemp statewide. The Idaho Senate passed the bill in a 30-5 vote on Wednesday.

    Until now, Idaho has been the lone holdout in the United States that did not distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana. Hemp contains no more than 0.3% of THC, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. The lack of clarity has prevented farmers from producing industrial hemp in the Gem State, which is why the Idaho Farm Bureau pushed for the bill’s passage.

    During the 2020 legislative session, a similar bill passed the Senate but failed to pass out of the House State Affairs Committee by one vote.

    The bill only legalizes industrial help for licensed farmers, handlers and transporters. It also directs the Idaho State Department of Agriculture to develop a state hemp plan and submit it for approval to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    According to the bill’s fiscal note, the state will need to spend $150,000 to set up the program, and ongoing costs will be covered by industry fees developed in line with the state plan and administrative rules.

    The bill now heads to Gov. Brad Little’s desk for final consideration.

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    Kelcie Moseley-Morris
    Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press. She has covered city and county government, crime and courts, education and the Idaho Legislature. She has received awards from the Idaho Press Club for her reporting on the aftermath of a $4.5 million budget shortfall at Nampa School District, as well as her reporting on campaign finance. Her specialty is reporting complex subjects related to fiscal policy in a straightforward, understandable way. Born and raised in Boise, Moseley-Morris lives with her husband, their daughter, and a silly dog named Olive in Meridian. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling to new places, mostly for the food.