Idaho House Follows Other Western States On Hemp Legalization

Mar 18, 2019

The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill Monday to legalize hemp in the state. 

When President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill it became legal to produce hemp in the U.S. But  it’s a little more complicated than that.

 If states want a say in how hemp is grown within their borders, they have to make a plan.  Otherwise, the feds will do it for them.  Colorado and Utah already had some rules on the books. 

Wyoming legalized the crop in 2017 and just this month, the governor signed legislation putting that state’s rules in place.

Idaho is the outlier. In fact it’s the only state in the West that still has a ban on hemp in the books.   

"You can make paper, you can make rope," says Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett,  one of several lawmakers trying to legalize hemp productions.  She spoke recently in a committee hearing on the issue.  "There are 26,000 plus uses for the hemp product."  

Next, the Idaho Senate will weigh in. It's not yet clear whether Governor Brad Little would sign a bill legalizing hemp in Idaho. 

Some law enforcement entities and Idaho prosecutors oppose the bill, saying it's not always possible to discern differences between marijuana and hemp. 

The Farm Bill requires that all states that want to manage their own hemp production have to come up with a plan to keep the THC content below point three percent.   That’s the psychoactive compound in the plant.  

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho,  KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Correction: An earlier audio version of this story misstated the percent of THC allowable in hemp under federal law. The current audio reflects the correct figure: .3 percent.