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Lawmaker plans legislation to legalize hemp in Idaho

The cannabis sativa plant. File photo.

An Idaho lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that will make hemp legal in the state.

Republican Rep. Dorothy Moon tells the Idaho Press that will align Idaho with federal law.

Lawmakers begin meeting Monday. Previous attempts to legalize hemp have failed over concerns it could be used to hide marijuana.

Hemp was banned across the country because of its relation to marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill allowed for industrial hemp production nationwide. Each state was then in charge of their own regulation, and now more than 30 states allow hemp farming.

Allowing industrial hemp to be farmed provides for the production of a variety of products like textiles, rope, biodegradable plastic and the supplement cannabidiol known as CBD oil. Cultivators must demonstrate the product they grow contains less than 0.3 percent THC — the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets users high.

In its purified distilled form, CBD oil commands thousands of dollars per kilogram, and farmers could make more than $100,000 an acre growing hemp plants to produce it, officials say.

Essentially, Idaho lawmakers are trying to find a way to legalize hemp while also allaying concerns among law enforcement officials that they’ll still be able to enforce laws prohibiting marijuana. The two plants are virtually identical, except hemp contains much less THC.

Legislation Moon and others introduced last year failed after opposition from the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

Twin Falls Prosecutor Grant Loebs, the chairman of the media committee for the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said the association isn’t opposed to legalizing hemp if the process complies with necessary regulations.

If there is a desire to allow legitimate farmers and legitimate businessmen to engage in the production and sale of hemp, and that’s what the goal of the legislation is, I see no reason why there can’t be legislation designed to meet that goal,” he said.

Moon said her legislation will remove hemp from the state’s list of Schedule 1 substances. A Schedule 1 substance is a drug that has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. She said her bill would remove hemp products containing .3% THC or less from the state’s Schedule 1 substance list.

A similar bill approved by the House died last year after the Senate cut language from the bill removing Hemp as a Schedule 1 substance.

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