Effort To Legalize Hemp Continues At Idaho Legislature

Feb 19, 2019

Debate about decriminalizing hemp in Idaho to bring the Gem State into accord with the federal Farm Bill continues to swirl at the capitol.
Credit Marcia O'Connor / Flickr

Efforts to legalize hemp in the Gem State continue to unfold at the capitol.

Idaho is one of just three states to have no legislation pertaining to the use of hemp. Nebraska and South Dakota are the others. While the federal Farm Bill now treats hemp as a commodity, Idaho statutes don’t share that perspective. The effort underway at the statehouse is to bring Idaho into accord with the federal guidelines.


Republican Representative Caroline Nilsson Troy pointed to the differences between hemp and pot while addressing the House Agricultural Affairs Committee.

“They defined hemp as a member of the cannabis plant, and yes, I know, that sounds terrible,” Troy said with mock horror. “It sounds like we’re going to start smokin’ marijuana here, and there’s a lot of people that think that that’s what this is about, but it’s not. The key difference is that hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent of THC.”

THC is the chemical in cannabis plants that gets you high.

The bill backed by Representatives Troy and Dorothy Moon subscribes to the federal definition of hemp and would open the door to commercial cultivation in Idaho. During Monday’s committee hearing, former grocer and current hemp consultant Dennis Shaver was among those who testified about the bill.

“We do have right now a three-to-five-year window of what I call, ‘crazy money,’” Shaver told the committee. “Same thing that happened in some of the other industries – I think it will then stabilize and become a very solid agricultural commodity going forward.”

While Shaver backed the bill, he outlined challenges surrounding cultivation. Most people who testified about the bill favored it, but there was some opposition.

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