The future is looking brighter for Idaho farmers interested in growing hemp, as members of the state’s House Agricultural Affairs Committee approved House Bill 126 on Monday.
Voting on H.B. 126 was initially delayed during a hearing on Feb. 24, as some members of the committee said they needed additional time; however, the bill passed in a 44-26 vote.
H.B. 126, which Rep. Clark Kauffman sponsored on the House floor, would legalize the production, processing, research and transportation of industrial hemp in Idaho.
If passed, farmers would be required to follow the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rule, set to take effect March 22, prohibiting them from growing plants that test over the 0.3% legal tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration limit.
According to the bill, any grower who violates the 0.3% THC limit will be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $150 for the first offense. For a second offense committed within five years of the first, a person would be guilty of a misdemeanor, and the fine could double to $300. Following this, a person who commits a third offense within five years of the first conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 and six months in the county jail.
The bill also states that the Idaho State Department of Agriculture must prepare and turn in a state hemp plan that complies with the 2018 Farm Bill rules and regulations no later than Sept. 1, 2021.
The bill is now headed to the Senate for approval. If approved, Idaho will become the final state in the U.S. to legalize industrial hemp.