State Politics

Bill allowing hemp legalization in Idaho now on its way to House floor

Hemp or pot: What’s the difference?

Now that SC farmers can grow industrial hemp, how well do you know your cannabis?
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Now that SC farmers can grow industrial hemp, how well do you know your cannabis?

More than one month after the bill was introduced, the House Agricultural Affairs Committee on Thursday finally voted on whether to advance a bill legalizing hemp in Idaho.

The committee’s recommendation? Approval.

With just two of committee’s 15 members voting no, the bill now heads to the House floor for consideration.

Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, told the committee that when the pilgrims came to this country, there were three crops they came to grow: indigo, tobacco and hemp.

“Hemp is an industrial use,” she said. “There were 162 tons of hemp product on the Mayflower when it made its way. You can make paper. You can make rope. There are 26,000-plus different uses for the hemp product.”

Why act on hemp in Idaho now?

Idaho is being forced to consider legalizing hemp because on Dec. 20, President Donald Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which included a provision legalizing hemp. With the new federal law going immediately into effect, state legislatures are springing into action to join the hemp revolution. The proposed Idaho bill, sponsored by Reps. Caroline Troy, R-Genesee, and Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, conforms to the federal bill.

Since Idaho’s bill was introduced on Feb. 8, Wyoming and New Mexico have legalized hemp, leaving Idaho the only state in the West where it is illegal.

During the committee’s hearing on the bill last month, some raised concerns that the nationwide hemp “gold rush” would result in farmers going bust when the bottom drops out of the now lucrative market.

“Farmers know what they are doing,” Zito said. “They don’t need the government to hold their hand and to guide them through all of this. We plant a crop. We know there is a risk off it.

“This is what we do. We put the seed in the ground. We pray it grows. We pray that at the end of the year we will be able to harvest enough of it to make a living, to feed our families and to plant that seed in the ground next year.”

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