Industrial hemp has gained a lot of ground this year, with legislation introduced and moving in several states, and laws being signed in Colorado and Vermont already. In fact, just last week farmers in Colorado harvested the first U.S. hemp crop in decades – and they did it in complete disregard for federal law. Hemp is such a versatile plant – with uses ranging from food to textiles – and is so heavily imported by the U.S., that it simply makes no sense not to grow it.
HB 1888 would allow for the production of industrial hemp in Washington state. The bill has already made it through two public hearings, and is currently being held in the House Appropriations Committee, where it ran into a last minute deadline this spring. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Matt Shea, has spoken repeatedly about the many uses of hemp, and told me in April that “this is a phenomenal bill, expanding freedom, allowing jobs to be created – a new market here in Washington state – the potential state economic impact is in the tens of millions if not hundreds of millions.”
This bill identifies industrial hemp as an agricultural product which can be grown, produced, possessed, and commercially traded in the state. Pursuant, of course, to the provisions of the law. The passage of such would not only be a huge boon to Washington state, but act as another domino in the chain of states who are taking back power over what they can grow and produce within their own borders.
What you can do:
1) The next legislative session begins on January 13th, and it will be important that we contact the House Appropriations Committee to make sure they are planning on pushing this bill forward. The hearing in April went well, but no vote was taken. Please ask the committee members to send this bill to the floor for a full vote.
2) Contact your legislators. Ask them for a positive vote when this bill comes to the floor. As I’ve stated before, it is not too early to begin dropping emails, snail mail, or even leaving phone messages for our reps. We want the important issues to be front and center from the first hour of the session. You can find their information here.
3) Share, share, share! Post information on Facebook, tell your friends and family about the benefits of industrial hemp in our state – get the word out. And again, help equip your friends with bill and legislator info.