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Idaho Farmers Challenge State's Anti-Hemp Sentiment

Although hemp production is legal in 47 states and at the federal level, Idaho still includes hemp in its marijuana laws, which are some of the strictest in the country.

This is a profound disappointment for the state’s organic, non-GMO farmers, who want to sell hemp seeds as a type of superfood. These same farmers say Idaho’s anti-hemp sentiment is a mistake, driven by misunderstanding as opposed to science or common sense.

Hemp looks and smells similar to marijuana, but it is an entirely different plant and it barely contains THC, the psychoactive chemical that gets marijuana-users high. For instance, marijuana contains 30% THC and hemp contains less than 0.3% of the psychoactive substance.

One farmer quipped:

If you’re going to get high on [hemp], you might as well smoke alfalfa.”

Changes to Come in 2020?

2020 is expected to be a big year for marijuana reform in Idaho, and the changes may very well start with hemp legislation. Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) is currently working on a bill that, if approved, would legalize hemp production in the state.

Farmers are eager to begin growing hemp, which some refer to as “a miracle crop.” Hemp, as it turns out, has countless uses. The plant’s seeds are rich in unsaturated fats, fiber, and protein; its oils have medicinal properties, and it can even be used to make clothing.

Benefits for the Economy and the Environment

Further, hemp and marijuana cannot grow in the same field, so arguments that hemp production would “cover-up” illegal marijuana farms are invalid. Cultivating hemp could also be lucrative for local farmers, who can earn about $1 per pound for hemp seeds and grow up to 2,000 pounds per acre. In many regards, hemp is cheaper to grow than corn.

Growing hemp is also good for the environment. Hemp crops add nitrogen to the soil and don’t require too much water, nor pesticides and herbicides.

Minimal Opposition

Most concerns about hemp production revolve around issues of enforcement and transportation. As Governor Brad Little states:

I am not opposed to a new crop such as hemp. We need to be sure the production and shipping of industrial hemp is not a front to smuggle illicit drugs into and around Idaho.”

Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the schedule 1 substances list (which includes heroin, ecstasy, and LSD) and allowed for hemp production around the country, yielding, of course, to each state’s rules about hemp.

While research is still underway in Idaho and new legislation has not yet been proposed, the prospects for hemp legalization look promising in 2020.

Arrested for Hemp? We Can Help

If you are caught with any THC-containing product in Idaho, you could face fines and imprisonment. Considering federal law and shifting perspectives around hemp, an arrest for this type of “drug” should be handled carefully by an experienced criminal defense attorney.

At May, Rammell & Wells, our team has over 70 years of combined experience and can help you navigate your drug charges. If the circumstances are right, we may be able to have your charges reduced or dismissed entirely.

Tell us your story today at (208) 623-8021 or contact us online for knowledgeable and proactive representation.


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