Industrial Hemp Bill Passes in Washington State

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UPDATE (3/29/16): The previously vetoed industrial hemp bill 6206 has officially been enacted into law after both chambers of legislature overrode the Governor’s blind veto. Washington State has hemp activist, Joy Beckerman, to thank as she is largely responsible for the passing of this bill. Farmers around the state are rejoicing at the opportunity to cultivate this unique and prosperous crop. Scroll down to the original article to read more about the bill itself.

Hemp, hemp, hooray! 


 

UPDATE: In an unexpected turn of events, Gov. Jay Inslee has vetoed more than two dozen bills sitting on his desk in response to legislature failing to reach a supplemental budget deal.  Gov. Jay Inslee spoke last night on his decision, “I have measured these bills against the importance of the budget, and set a very high bar. I recognize that this is probably the largest batch of vetoes in state history. None of these vetoed bills were as important as the fundamental responsibility of legislature to produce a balanced budget.

Its unfortunate that this bill was lumped in with 27 other bills and used as a political bargaining chip. You can take action and help this bill pass by calling the Senate and House majority leaders to ask them to rehear all 27 bills that Gov. Inslee vetoed.

Senator Mark Schoesler (360)-786-7620
Represenative Pat Sullivan (360) 786 – 7858


ORIGINAL ARTICLE: “Hemp, hemp hooray!” is echoing across Washington State as bill 6206 to legalize industrial hemp sits on Governor Inslee’s desk awaiting the final signature that will enact it into law. The bill to cultivate and manufacture industrial hemp in the Evergreen State has already passed the House and Senate with flying colors.

Bill 6206 would have given the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) the ability to grant grow licenses to industrial hemp farmers. Industrial hemp, as defined in this bill, would have been used to produce biofuel, clothes and beauty products. It would have strictly prohibited the processing of hemp into extract or resin for any medical or recreational use.

The only catch is that you would have needed to participate in a research study in order to cultivate hemp in Washington. The WSDA would have begun licensing hemp farmers as a part of the industrial hemp research program in time for the 2016 outdoor growing season.

The bill said the WSDA may only approve growers whose plots will “advance the goals of the department’s industrial hemp research program.”

The industrial hemp research program would have been headed by Washington State University. WSU would have been tasked with the goal of analyzing how the hemp industry would have affected the state on an economic and environmental level, and more specifically whether Washington soils and growing conditions are appropriate for industrial hemp at economically viable levels. This study would have been expected to answer whether hemp poses a risk for introducing new diseases or pests to related species, such as hops.

In addition to studying the local market in Washington state, WSU would have conducted worldwide research relating to industrial hemp cultivars, production and use. WSU would have reported its findings to the legislature by January 14, 2017.

The licenses would have been valid for one year and renewed annually. The requirements for applying to the Washington industrial hemp program were:

  • Name and mailing address of applicant (any natural person, firm, partnership, association, private or public corporation, government entity or other business entity.)
  • GPS coordinate of proposed industrial hemp production fields and legal description of plots.
  • Signed declaration indicating whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor (cannot have had a felony drug conviction within the last ten years)
  • Written consent allowing the WSDA to enter onto grow plots to conduct physical inspections of the hemp. (Cultivars cannot contain over 0.3% THC)
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee, in an amount not yet determined by the department. (For reference, a similar bill in Oregon has a $500 application fee)
  • A record of the license, if issued, must be immediately forwarded to the sheriff of your local county.

This would have been an exciting opportunity for Washington state to get involved in an industry that Congressional Research Service estimates to be a $581 million industry in the U.S.  Washington has been a leader in agricultural production for years and is one of the most productive growing regions in the world. This was the opportunity we have been waiting for to advance Washington into the hempire it has the potential to be. 

 

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

About Author

Allie is a NW-based content curator for Marijuana.com and an organic farmer at TKO Reserve. She has been a professional in the marijuana industry since she was 18 years old, spending the first five years of her career working for Dope Magazine as lead photographer. Allie has worked on mainstream projects such as Idiot's Guide: Growing Marijuana, Branding Bud: The Consumerization of Cannabis and her own self-published book, As The Grass Grows.

3 Comments

  1. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Great news! Repeat these legislative actions in all 49 other states by tomorrow, restoring a crop in American agriculture that has been aggressively resisted by federal, state and local tyrants for almost 80 years. Any officials who continue to resist, citing the risk of clandestine “marihuana” crops planted next to hemp fields, are clearly ignorant about male cannabis flowers pollinating female flowers in close proximity, which renders the latter basically useless as a medicinal or recreational “drug.” Thank Goddess for air-tight greenhouses and grow rooms!

  2. This is actually TERRIBLE news for Washington State. Like last year and the year before, the Senate passed a bill that did little more than to call for an unfunded study. And like all unfunded studies, they are “feel good” vehicles for the sponsors and supporters. I wrote the House bill, and again this year, Rep. Chris Hurst, refused to even give us a hearing.

    A democratic legislator told me that it was Gov. Inslee that had put out the word that he didn’t want a real hemp bill passed. Apparently he was told by the governor that this was something to do with hemp and CBD. We may never get the real story, But what we do know is that the Hemp Industries Association, represented by Joy Beckerman, testified in favor of this bill. The HIA has taken a lot of criticism for supporting over-regulation of industrial hemp.

    As a result of the Governors’ meddling, we won’t be growing hemp in Washington this year, and it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be growing it next year either. It was’t bad enough that these politicians had to screw up medical and recreational marijuana, but I’m willing to be you money that the LCB will have some control of industrial hemp….and that they’ll screw that up too!

    This also means that we will be 4-6 years behind Colorado and Kentucky in building a hemp industry and that could be enough to make us uncompetitive in attracting investment capital for building this new industry.

    • DopinShamoke on

      I’m not sure what you’re talking about when you say they screwed up medical and recreational. Both are working fine in Washington State.

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