OLYMPIA, Wa. (Mar. 24, 2015) – By a unanimous 9-0 vote yesterday, a Washington state House committee approved a bill that would authorize the farming, production, and sale of industrial hemp in the state, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same.
Introduced by State Sens. Brian Hatfield (D-Raymond) and Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), Senate Bill 5012 (SB5012) would open up the industrial hemp market in Washington state if successfully passed, something the federal government prohibits even thought they’ve made a tactical retreat to withdraw some enforcement efforts in the face of massive state resistance.
The bill reads, in part:
Industrial hemp is an agricultural product that may be legally grown, produced, possessed, processed, and commercially traded
SB5012 previously passed the state Senate by a 47-0 vote, and the unanimous vote in the House Commerce and Gaming committee moves it another step closer to the Governor’s desk. But the effort hasn’t avoided significant roadblocks.
A similar bill, HB1552 from Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley), also passed the committee, but a number of members wanted to ensure that it had a strong regulatory regime from the state. Once it moved to the next committee, Appropriations, the bill was blocked from getting any further votes because the regulations demanded by some of the more government-centric legislators resulted in a large “fiscal note,” estimating the state could lose up to $700,000 a year just administering the programs.
While SB5012 was amended in the Commerce and Gaming committee yesterday to include licensing requirements for farmers, and other moderate regulations, Rep. Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw) raised a serious concern about haggling over even more regulations, and called on committee members to move the bill forward without trying to control too much of the market.
“As we go down this path, we’re starting to already try to overregulate and overthink something that doesn’t even exist,” said Hurst. “It’s time to get going, we can start worrying about more of the specific details next year once we actuallyhave an industry going. If we add another fiscal note on top of this bill with a whole bunch of new ideas and a whole bunch of FTEs on a product that’s not even being grown today, we’re never going to get it done.”
Rep. Cary …Read More