BOISE — In response to concerns raised by local law enforcement and prosecutors in a committee hearing earlier this week, the Senate agreed to changes in a bill that would legalize the growth, transportation and sale of hemp in Idaho.

With the amendments, HB 122 will include a new provision regulating interstate transport of hemp throughout Idaho.

”You may be aware that our state needs to get ahead of our ability to regulate transport in our state after the federal Farm Bill has legalized hemp,” the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Abby Lee, R-Fruitland, told the Senate. “We still have the ability to set what our policy is.”

The provision gives clear direction for law enforcement, as well as those seeking permits outside of the state, according to Lee.

Right now, until the federal government has promulgated its rules, Lee said the state isn’t required to allow transport. But, as soon as they do, the new bill will direct how transport will be done in Idaho.

The bill comes as a Colorado company is suing Idaho agencies to get back its shipment of 6,700 pounds of declared hemp that Idaho State Police confiscated in January during a traffic stop and arrest.

The changes also add an emergency clause, which would make the law effective immediately upon passage.

Additional amendments to the bill are similar to the changes proposed by law enforcement and prosecutors, which included some changes to the language, additional definitions and a provision regulating when the state compliance plan must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Without a USDA-approved state plan, the federal agency would come in and regulate Idaho’s hemp industry, according to Lee.

”The importance of having our own state plan is so that we can have primacy over this product that has been legalized through the federal level,” Lee said.

The changes also include the creation of a “hemp development fund,” which would be used to carry out the bill’s regulations.

The bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, and Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, would change Idaho law so that it conforms with the 2018 federal Farm Bill signed by President Trump in December 2018, also known as the Hemp Research and Development Act. The Farm Bill removes hemp from the Schedule 1 controlled substance list at the federal level. The proposed legislation would allow farmers and entrepreneurs the option to cultivate and process hemp, under a state regulation.

The bill still needs approval from the full Senate, and concurrence from the House in the Senate amendments, before it could head to the governor’s desk.

Savannah Cardon is the Caldwell reporter for the Idaho Press. Follow her on Twitter, @savannahlcardon, or reach her at 208-465-8172.

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