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