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BOISE — The Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee on Thursday unanimously voted to send the House-passed industrial hemp legalization bill to the full Senate.

HB 126 would amend Idaho’s list of controlled substances to differentiate between hemp, which has no more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and its more potent cousin. It would authorize the production, research, processing and transportation of industrial hemp by those licensed in Idaho, and allow the legal possession and transportation of the product in and through the state.

“House Bill 126 is a farming, processing, trucking and research bill,” said Braden Jensen, lobbyist for the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, during Thursday’s public hearing. “House Bill 126 is not a CBD, THC or medical marijuana bill.”

Last week, the House voted 44-26 in favor of HB 126.

After hearing public testimony — all in favor of HB 126 — followed by little discussion, the Senate Agricultural Affairs committee members voted to send the bill along with a recommendation that it “do pass.” Sen. Regina Bayer, R-Meridian, was the only committee member to express skepticism, questioning the effect on THC as a Schedule I substance. Jensen said the bill would only legalize up to .3% THC in hemp for licensed industrial uses. Bayer supported sending the bill to the full Senate, but said she reserved her right to later oppose the bill.

Among those testifying in favor of the bill was Mattie Mead, founder and CEO of Hempitecture, a Ketchum-based company that specializes in hemp building materials. Hempitecture currently imports hemp wool from a manufacturer in Canada, which means money is being spent out of the state and country when it could stay in Idaho, Mead said.

“The reason I’m supporting this bill is because my company is in the process of establishing a hemp wool facility here in southern Idaho, where we’ve received county approval,” he said. “If this bill does not pass, we may be forced to look at other locations for our manufacturing concept.”

Ryan Suppe is the Boise City Hall and Treasure Valley business reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext. 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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