March 28, 2017
Industrial hemp, which has been made legal again in many states, could be coming to Washington soon. The Washington State Department of Agriculture wants to know if the crop, and potential products from the crop, would be viable in the state. The first step is to set up a pilot program, which the state is in the process of doing.
Established by the state Legislature, the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot is designed to research the cultivation and commercial viability of the crop in the state.
The 2014 Farm Bill allows states to grow industrial hemp, only for research purposes, to determine if it is a viable industry. Hemp advocates have long pushed for such a measure, and before concerns with confusion over hemp and cannabis (marijuana) were raised, hemp was an important crop in the United States. It appears this is getting closer, but first the pilot project needs to be undertaken — and that's where the public comes in.
The goal of the IHRP is to issue licenses to produce industrial hemp as a means of researching the cultivation and marketing of the crop. But first there must be rules for the pilot, and those rules have been proposed. The state wants public comment on the rules by April 7.
The IHRP has filed the proposed rules for issuing licenses to grow the crop as part of the pilot. According to the WSDA, the state did set several requirements, some of which include:
• setting a license fee
• establishing criteria for creating a license application
• setting criteria for testing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) amounts
• creating a GPS mapping system for fields
• determining research goals
The public is invited to comment on the new rules. The first step is to read the rules, which you can find at the link above. Comments on the proposed rules are due by April 7, and the public can provide input in several ways:
1. Email [email protected].
2. Mail to Henri Gonzales, WSDA Rules Coordinator, P.O. Box 42560, Olympia, WA 98504-2560
3. Attend one of two public hearings:
• Yakima. April 6, 2017, 11 a.m., 21 North 1st Ave, Conference Room 238
• Olympia. April 7, 2017, 11 a.m., 1111 Washington St. SE, Conference Room 259
As a cannabis plant, industrial hemp remains a controlled substance under federal law. Industrial hemp has a range of potential uses, and is growing as a source of fiber used in textiles, rope, paper and building materials. Hemp seed is also used for food, oil and other products. WSDA noted that 30 states have passed legislation regarding industrial hemp: either legalizing production, allowing research and pilot programs, or a combination of both.
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