BOISE – A bill legalizing the cultivation, sale and processing of industrial hemp in Idaho was submitted by the House Agricultural Affairs Committee on Friday for a vote.
Deputy Caroline Troy, R-Genesee, gave a loud "Woo-hoo!" After the vote.
"It was a long way to get here, not just for me, but for other people in my district," she said.
Troy referred to the former Rep. Tom Trail from Moscow, who for more than a decade tried to convince the legislature about the benefits and safety of the fiber plant.
Hemp is, as Troy likes to say, "a cousin of marijuana, but not a kissing cousin." While marijuana may contain 20 percent or more THC, by definition, the component that causes people to get high levels of hemp is less than 0.3 percent.
Although it is unusable for humans, it is a source of fiber and a popular dietary supplement. The fibers can be used in about 50,000 products, from ropes and linen to fabrics, paper and construction materials. Hemp seeds are also a nutritious protein source for humans and animals, and hemp oils and extracts are used in cosmetics, soaps, plastics and lubricants.
Troy said the draft bill, co-sponsored with Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, was the recent Congressional approval of the 2018 Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances and legalized its nationwide production and processing. Troy's calculation mimics the code changes in Idaho.
The law also provides $ 150,000 for the Idaho Department of Agriculture to hire a program manager and a part-time investigator to drive Idaho's hemp industry.
The running costs for the items would, according to the calculation, be borne by producer and processor fees.
Rep. Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston, applied for the bill and said, "It took a long time."
Representative Bill Goesling, R-Moscow, said his e-mail was peppered with messages in support of the measure.
The bill will now come back to the committee for a public hearing, though Judge Boyle, R-Midvale, said she may be holding back for a while to allow the legislature to get used to the idea.