Bill Calls For WSU to Study Hemp

By Steve Jackson

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would direct Washington State University to study how hemp would fare as a crop in the state.

The state initiative that voters approved last fall legalizing recreational use of marijuana also defined the difference between marijuana plants, and plants that should be defined as hemp.  Although they are the same plant, hemp is defined as a cannabis plant with less than one third of one percent of THC, the active ingredient in Marijuana. By contrast, Marijuana can range from 5 to over 20 percent THC.

The plant has been used throughout history to make rope, paper and other fibers, but has been illegal in the USA since the 1930’s.
Now Democratic State Senator Jeanne Kohl Wells has introduced legislation that would allow WSU to study hemp.

Kohl Wells: “We actually want to find out if there is a market for hemp products as well as whether there would be interest in the farming community to grow and produce hemp here.”

Chris Mulick, director of WSU State relations, says the University did not want to do anything in violation of federal law.

Mulick: "We didn’t want to jeopardize funding, and you don’t see any direction in the bill that have us grow the product on any of our campuses.”

The fact that all forms of cannabis remains illegal under federal law poses a huge obstacle for any farmers who might be toying with the idea of hemp as a crop, But Senator Wells believes that issue will be resolved.

Kohl Wells: “We will know more within a years time whether the federal government is going to go after the state relating to the legalization of marijuana, if that doesn’t occur, I cant fathom that the federal government will go after farmers growing hemp, that doesn’t make sense.”

The senate bill has had hearings in the Ways and Means and Agriculture committees.

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