hemp in field

Industrial hemp

Gov. Brad Little on Friday quietly signed HB 126, the industrial hemp legalization bill, into law, ending Idaho's distinction as the last state to legalize the non-intoxicating crop for cultivation by Idaho farmers, along with transportation and processing of the plant.

The bill does not, however, legalize hemp products sold to consumers, including CBD oil, that contain any amount of THC, the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana. Industrial hemp contains no more than 0.3% of the substance, as do many of those hemp products, though some are manufactured to have no THC; 0.3% is a level so low that the products have no intoxicating effect.

"Gov. Little signed the bill as he was convinced the bill does not compromise the state’s ability to enforce our drug laws and it allows farmers in Idaho to grow a commodity permitted under federal law," Little's press secretary Marissa Morrison Hyer, said in an email this morning.

The bill includes an emergency clause making it effective immediately upon signing, but representatives of the Idaho Farm Bureau, who proposed the bill this year, said the process of setting up the new regulation system for industrial hemp would take long enough that the first hemp growing season in Idaho likely wouldn't start until 2022. 

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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