Proposal would legalize hemp in Idaho

Rep. Caroline Troy and Sen. Abby Lee are working on a bill to legalize industrial hemp in Idaho. (CBS 2 file photo)

Two Idaho lawmakers are crafting a proposal that would mirror what the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill did nationally and legalize hemp in Idaho.

Hemp is not marijuana, but is its non-intoxicating cannabis cousin.

And Rep. Caroline Troy, (R) Genesee, says law enforcement in Idaho can expect increased encounters with commercial shipments of hemp on the highways after the 2018 Farm Bill recently legalized industrial hemp nationwide.

"And so a lot of states are coming on board with that and looking for ways to bring hemp legally into their state and to produce it, grow it, and process it," Rep. Troy said. "And so I think Idaho needs to catch up and find a way to let Idaho farmers grow and produce hemp if they so choose."

Rep. Troy and Sen. Abby Lee are working on a bill to legalize industrial hemp in Idaho.

"One of the things the Farm Bill has done is simply changed the landscape," said the Fruitland Republican. "There is not another commodity that I'm aware of that the federal government has legalized that states still have as an illegal commodity, so that's the different conversation we're having on a policy level."

Hemp and marijuana plants look and smell similar, but hemp plants, which can be used to make a variety of products, typically contain less than point 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, which can contain anywhere from 15 to 45 percent THC.

But in Idaho any level of THC is illegal.

"If we don't change our definition we still need to deal with this commodity," said Sen. Lee, "and we potentially open our state to have the USDA come in and regulate this in our state."

The two lawmakers have been talking with law enforcement as they prepare their legislation and they hope to have a bill to present to committee in several days.

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