An Idaho House committee reluctantly approved a bill to legalize industrial hemp Monday. Idaho is currently the last state in the country that hasn’t legalized the plant.
Legislative attempts to legalize hemp here have failed for years in the face of pushback from law enforcement groups.
The plant contains very low concentrations of THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gets a person high. But current Idaho law bans any trace of the substance.
This year’s bill would keep hemp classified as a Schedule I drug, alongside its cousin, marijuana, opioids and LSD. Only licensed farmers, haulers and processors could handle the plant.
During a hearing last week, Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) said hemp should not be considered a drug.
“This is something that is just so way behind the time,” Moon said.
In the past, she’s sponsored similar bills that included de-listing the plant from state code. “I’ve kind of lost heart after three attempts at it to do it again.”
Moon and several Republicans on the House Agricultural Affairs Committee Monday voted to pass the bill for now, but reserved their right to vote against it on the House floor.
Boise resident Steve Madden was the only person who testified against the proposal last week. Madden claims it will lead to the legalization of marijuana.
“It’s not going to lead to anything good and being a political, economic and social refugee from California, I’d like to not see this passed,” he said.
Federal officials last month approved an application by the Nez Perce Tribe to regulate their own hemp production.
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