WASHINGTON: By a unanimous 49-0 vote this week, the Washington state Senate approved a bill that would authorize the farming, production, and sale of industrial hemp in the state, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same once put into effect.
Senate Bill 5012 (SB5012) was co-sponsored by State Sens. Brian Hatfield (D-District 19) and Jim Honeyford (R-District 15) and would open up the industrial hemp market in Washington state if successfully passed. It states unequivocally that “industrial hemp is an agricultural product that may be grown, produced, possessed, and commercially traded in the state.” This opens the door for an industrial hemp market to spring up after SB5012 becomes law.
In addition, SB5012 authorizes research into the viability of industrial hemp as well. The bill states that “Washington State University shall study the feasibility and desirability of industrial hemp production in Washington” and “shall gather information from agricultural and scientific literature, consult with experts and the public, and review the best practices of other states and countries worldwide regarding the development of markets for industrial hemp and hemp products.”
A similar bill has also been introduced in the state House. HB1552, sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) is considered by supporters to be a stronger bill because it not only would make industrial hemp an “agricultural product” as in SB5012, but also includes the needed steps to effectuate this policy. In short, SB5012 will potentially need follow-up legislation before it comes into effect while HB1552 covers that follow up immediately.