Iowa Industrial Hemp Bill Passes Senate

Industrial hemp in Iowa
Image: rexmedlen

Iowa’s Senate has approved Senate File 2398, which relates to establishing an industrial hemp industry in the state, in a unanimous 49 to 0 vote last week.

Senate File 2398 would create the Iowa Industrial Hemp Act authorising production and marketing of the crop in Iowa in compliance with federal law (2014 Farm Bill), so it will be quite restrictive.

If passed, the Bill would see two programs established in the state:

  • Industrial Hemp Commodity Program, administered by the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
  • Industrial Hemp Production Program administered by a Board of Regents institution.

The maximum amount of THC to be permissible in plants is yet to be determined, but it’s likely Iowa will fall into line with other states; which is generally 0.3 per cent on a dry weight basis.

Under the program, the Department will offer certified industrial hemp seed for sale to licensees participating in the commodity program and may also do so for participants operating under the production program.

Senate File 2398 was filed by Senator Tom Shipley, who said Iowa lawmakers need to “get out of our own way” in relation to the crop, which he stated offered many possibilities.

Senate File 2398 will now go to the House and assuming it passes muster there, it will then make its way to Governor Kim Reynolds for her final consideration.

It’s always interesting how some states allow for medical cannabis cultivation before industrial hemp and Iowa is such an example. It was nearly a year ago that a medical cannabis bill was passed in the state and headed for then-Governor Terry Branstad’s desk, which he signed before leaving office in May.

The other interesting and disappointing aspect of the proposed industrial hemp program will be that it has been specified it can’t be used to produce medical cannabidiol, a compound that some strains are quite rich in. That’s even though medical cannabis legislation in the state only allows for cannabidiol. Why it has been excluded isn’t clear, but it may be to protect Iowa’s medical cannabis industry. While that’s hardly huge as only two growers will be permitted, no doubt those companies will want to protect their investment.

The stipulation may also have to do with the 2014 Farm Bill, which makes the issue of the legal status of cannabidiol derived from hemp rather confusing.