The state of Idaho has reportedly been working with the Drug Enforcement Agency to make sure that the state gets it first-mover advantage in the booming marijuana industry as of 2022, according to a new report. The DEA says that it will work with the state to develop the potentially lucrative emerging industry, which it estimates could reach $20.8 billion by 2022.

In 2018, the Idaho Department of Agriculture began to prepare for the 2020 growing cycle. They’ve established a hemp registry, conducted a law enforcement training, and started researching the potential economic impacts of growing hemp in the state. Now, with the 2019 legislative session underway, the state’s farmers are hoping to receive approval for the 2020 growing season.

Legislation to legalize hemp farming in Idaho was introduced in the 2018 Idaho Legislature and passed the House Rules Committee. Senate Bill 54, which would legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state, was delayed in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee until September of 2018. As of December 1st, the bill had not yet passed the Senate.

word-image-2364 It is expected that the cultivation, processing and transportation of industrial hemp will be allowed in Idaho beginning with the 2022 growing season. Idaho became the last state in the country to legalize the production and processing of industrial hemp when Governor Brad Little signed the law into law on June 16. April Bill 126 signed. The bill passed the Senate by a 30-5 vote and the House by a 44-26 vote and became effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature. The bill directs the Idaho Department of Agriculture to develop a statewide cannabis program with input from all stakeholders. But although the law paves the way for the legalization of industrial hemp in Idaho, for now it is still illegal to grow, process or transport hemp in the state. Don’t grow, process or transport cannabis in Idaho until we have all the necessary requirements, because there’s still some work to be done before we can do it legally, said Braden Jensen, assistant director of government affairs for the Idaho Farmers Bureau Federation. The bill is narrowly worded and only allows people to grow and process industrial hemp if they have an ISDA permit. You can also carry it in the name of an authorized person. This is purely a law for farmers and processors, Jensen said. This will not legalize cannabis for all Idaho residents. For over twenty years, the Idaho Farmers Bureau Federation has developed a policy, supported by its members, that supports the legalization of industrial hemp in Idaho. Bill 126 was drafted by the IFBF. Hemp is the same species as marijuana, but industrial hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive substance that gets marijuana users high, according to federal law. It is almost impossible to get high from industrial hemp. Jensen said IFBF members understand the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana, and that the organization strongly opposes the legalization of marijuana in Idaho. We were and are against marijuana, he said. Industrial hemp is something we in the agricultural sector understand very well, and our members have been supporting it for decades. Bill 126 directs ISDA to begin developing a state plan for cannabis through a negotiated rulemaking process in which everyone can participate. The Department of Agriculture immediately began planning for the process after the governor signed the law. For more information on how to participate in the cannabis regulatory process, visit the ISDA website – agri.idaho.gov/main/ – and click on the Cannabis link on the left side of the page. Those who want to participate or follow the process can simply register on the cannabis website, said Chanel Tewalt, deputy director of ISDA. The website will be the easiest place for a person to see everything about the process and get information as it progresses, she said. The government’s regulatory process is very transparent. It should be an activity in which the general public can easily participate. The first regulatory meeting will be held on June 23 and the second on June 30. The month of June will take place. Details on how to participate can be found on the ISDA cannabis website. After receiving public comments, ISDA will develop a cannabis plan for the state that will be consistent with federal guidelines for industrial hemp. This plan must be approved by the Governor and the Director of the Idaho State Police. Idaho’s cannabis plan is due January 1. September to be completed and submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture. The plan must also be approved by state lawmakers during the 2022 legislative session, which begins next January. The timetable is quite short, but ISDA will meet all requirements, Tewalt said. The intent of the law is clear: We are ready for the 2022 growing season, and we will get there, she said. Once the state’s plan is finalized, ISDA will oversee the cultivation and processing of cannabis in Idaho. Hemp products have always been sold legally in the US, but it wasn’t until the 2018 Farm Bill that domestic cannabis cultivation and processing was allowed. All cannabis products sold in the United States to date have come from other countries. The 2018 farm bill allowed American farmers to grow industrial hemp, but left it up to the states to devise their own plans. Now Idaho farmers will also be able to participate in the process. In public speeches about cannabis laws in the Idaho legislature over the past three years, some have said farmers could make $30,000 or more per acre if they grew industrial hemp. As people already know, this was a grossly exaggerated and obviously false prediction. However, hemp is used in more than 20,000 products, and farmers in Idaho can now begin to determine if and how industrial hemp can fit into their crop rotation. Idaho farmers will soon be able to decide whether cannabis is right for them, Tewalt said. If there’s one thing we know about agriculture in Idaho, it’s that it’s incredibly productive and highly innovative, she said. Jensen said research by university scientists is one of the keys to understanding how cannabis production might work in Idaho, which is why House Bill 126 emphasizes allowing such research in Idaho. We really want our state agencies to start looking at the potential of cannabis in Idaho, he said. We really need to start understanding which varieties grow well in Idaho conditions. For… Given Idaho’s unique characteristics, it is very important for farmers to have information that is useful to them at the local level, Tewalt said. While some farmers and others in the state’s agricultural sector are watching cannabis do well, others are eager to grow it here. One of them is Tim Corney, owner of 1000 Springs Mill, a Buhl-based food company that contracts with area farmers to produce organic foods such as beans, feed barley, oats and ancient grains. Roots said the company plans to start selling cannabis seeds for consumption once it is allowed in Idaho. This will provide more opportunities for Idaho farmers and for 1000 Springs Mill. Hempseed is a superfood, he said. In Germany, it is used to make high-quality chocolate and contains as much protein as soybeans. You can do a lot with this. This will be another product for our company. Matty Mead is the owner and founder of Hempitecture, a Ketchum-based company that specializes in building materials made from hemp biomass. In May, the company received a $207,000 grant from the State of Idaho to work with the University of Idaho to research and develop Hempitecture, a natural fiber insulation product for the construction industry. For now, Hempitecture is using hemp imported from other regions, but Mead is looking forward to the day when Idaho farmers can produce hemp for the company’s production facility in Idaho. I am very pleased with the passage of Bill 126 because it provides an opportunity to grow it in Idaho and support Idaho farmers, he said. This is definitely a new and growing industry, and Idaho may be in a good position to take advantage of it. Jensen said Farm Bureau members are excited about the possibility of growing cannabis in Idaho if they choose. It’s not for everyone, and I think we’ll continue to see how this industry evolves, he said. It will evolve slowly and over time, but it’s definitely an option for some people once they get a little more experience.

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