Hemp is no longer an undefined term. In fact, information about hemp has become widespread over the past decade. There is more education, more hemp-based products and a more accurate understanding of how the plant works and how it’s different from cannabis. The hemp industry has made many leaps in progress over the last few years alone, with thanks to many researchers and inventors who have crafted products worth investing in. And finally, multiple states have begun to take notice. Recently, a handful of hemp bills were approved. In honor of Hemp History Week (June 3-June 9) we take a look at a few states that have made recent progress on the hemp front.
The Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries approved 216 licenses for those who applied to be industrial hemp cultivators in late-April. According to AL.com, 152 of those licenses belong to cultivators, 59 belong to processors and five were approved for local universities. These licenses were approved thanks to the foundation set by the Alabama Industrial Hemp Pilot Program that was originally established in 2016.
On May 9, Gov. Ned Lamont signed Senate Bill 893, also called “An Act Concerning A Pilot Program for Hemp Production,” which legalizes industrial hemp cultivation in the state of Connecticut. Through this legislation, an industrial hemp pilot program can now be established. Prior to this bill being signed into law, the only hemp cultivation that was allowed was through state universities and the state’s agriculture department.
House Bill 213 was signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on May 10. Entitled the “Georgia Hemp Farming Act,” this bill authorizes hemp research and studies, provides licensing and permit requirements for potential hemp cultivators and processors and redefines the term “marijuana.” Currently the state does have a limited medical cannabis program, but all products are imported from other states.
As of this writing, Hawaiian Gov. David Ige has Senate Bill 1353 on his desk. In late April, a conference committee provided last minute approval of the bill to be passed on to the governor for consideration. Gov. Ige received the bill on May 6, and it remains unsigned as of late-May. If it becomes law, it will become the state’s agriculture department’s job to establish an industrial hemp program. It will also remove any contradictory rules that exist under the current hemp pilot program that launched in 2018, and it will redefine the meaning of “marijuana” to specify that hemp is not the same.
Thanks to the signature of Gov. Kim Reynolds, the state of Iowa welcomed the Iowa Hemp Act (SF599) on May 13. This means that farmers are legally allowed to use up to 40 acres of land for hemp cultivation. The only caveat is that this change doesn’t immediately take effect. First, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will need to create a plan on how to regulate hemp cultivation, which will need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 868 on April 18, which will pave the way for industrial hemp to thrive in the state of Oklahoma. The bill allows the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to control the future of the industrial hemp program, which is expected to be in place by 2020.
On April 24, Texas legislators approved House Bill 1325, which aims to allow cultivators to legally grow industrial hemp in the state. The legislation was approved by the Texas Senate on May 15.
Legislators in Washington recently passed Senate Bill 5276 into law on April 26 with a signature by Gov. Jay Inslee. According to the new law, a regulatory program can now be established in order to regulate hemp production. Specifically, it will target licensing, inspection and testing of hemp under the USDA.