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Idaho House Approves Industrial Hemp Bill

Marcia O'Connor

A bill that would legalize industrial hemp in Idaho cleared its first major hurdle in the House Monday.

Several Republicans voted against the proposal because they don’t think it goes far enough. Hemp would still be illegal unless you hold a permit to grow, process or ship the plant.

Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) has tried to legalize hemp for years. She said she appreciates the attempt, but that she can’t support the bill as-is.

“Their heart is in the right place, but again, the cart is way ahead of the actual horse here,” Moon said.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Clark Kauffman (R-Filer), acknowledged that it might not be what everyone wants.

“Though it may be seen as a bit constricting, it’s a lot less constricting than what we have now, which is no production,” Kauffman said.

Idaho is the only state in the country to not have some legal form of hemp.

The plant produces small amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in its cousin, marijuana, but not enough to get someone high. Still, any amount of THC is considered illegal in Idaho.

In past years, law enforcement lobbying groups have blocked attempts to fully legalize the plant over concerns marijuana could be disguised as hemp.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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