Senate committee OK with study of hemp industry


first_imgSPOKANE — With recreational marijuana use now legal in Washington, state legislators are eyeing whether the state should also allow a hemp industry.Hemp, like marijuana, comes from the cannabis plant but has much less THC, the component of marijuana that makes people high. The hemp plant has thousands of industrial uses and could provide a new cash crop for farmers.The state Senate is considering a bill authorizing Washington State University to study the feasibility and possible value of an industrial hemp industry.“We have a long tradition of hemp usage on our country,” said State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, a sponsor of the bill. “The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.”The federal government outlawed hemp decades ago as part of its efforts to stop marijuana production and use, Kohl-Welles said.Several people supported the bill at a recent hearing of the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development committee.Aimee Warner, a member of the Washington Hemp Industry Association, said the crop would grow well in the state’s climate.“Our farmers are ready to, and need to, start putting industrial hemp seeds into the ground immediately,” Warner said. “There is an irrational fear of this historically persecuted crop.”Chris Mulick, a lobbyist for Washington State University, said the school is “eager to help the state understand the viability and profitability of growing industrial hemp.”But he warned that the university must comply with U.S. laws in order to keep receiving federal funds for research and student aid.last_img

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