May A Big Month For Industrial Hemp In Washington

Industrial hemp in Washington state
Image: kat_geb – Flickr: 29, CC BY 2.0, Link

After disappearing from the state for many decades due to it being outlawed, industrial hemp will soon be planted again in Washington state.

The first legal planting of industrial hemp in Washington state in around  90 years will occur late this month after rules become effective in WA’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot (IHRP) on May 15.

While the program is very restrictive as it operates in accordance with the 2014 Federal Farm Bill*, it may allow for exploring the commercial viability of the crop.

Unfortunately, viable industrial hemp seeds won’t be able to be resold at this point in time due to DEA restrictions; however denatured seeds will be able to be sold as grain. Also unfortunate is the fact industrial hemp cannot be grown in Washington for cannabidiol (CBD), CBD extract, or any other CBD component.

Regardless of the (many) restrictions, there is an air of excitement in the state over the return of the crop.

Washington Hemp Industries Association has partnered with HempLogic USA & Hemp Ace International with an educational event on May 23 to showcase the crop and its many uses; with representatives from Washington State Department of Agriculture to also attend.

In related news, a reform bill on Washington State’s Governor Jay Inslee’s desk awaiting his signature that could restore power to the State Department of Agriculture to fine farmers who grow hemp without a license, powers that reportedly weren’t issued in another bill he recently signed.

It’s always very curious to see U.S. states that allow medical cannabis being so skittish about hemp, considering the crop has zero recreational value. Washington State has a voluntary medicinal marijuana patient registration scheme, allowing patients to cultivate up to 15 plants at home.

Trivia : The state’s namesake, first U.S. President and founding father George Washington grew hemp on his land. In a letter to his plantation manager he said:

“Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, . . . and sow it everywhere!”

* The 2014 Federal Farm Bill only permits institutions of higher education or state departments of agriculture to conduct hemp research and pilot programs in states where cultivation is legal.