By Jenny Bloom
Washington Cannabis Connection
May’s Omnibus Pot Bill did much more than legalize sharing among friends, it also may have been the first step toward Washington-grown hemp. Even though marijuana is legal, growing hemp, its non-psychoactive cousin, is not. Last month’s bill ordered both Department of Agriculture and the state liquor and cannabis board to explain why.
Products made from hemp are not difficult to find in the Evergreen State. Much of it is regularly imported from Canada in the form of oils, textiles and food items. Canadian hemp is big business as well. Congressional Research Service reported that in 2015, America imported more than $78 million in hemp products.
While Canada is profiting off of America’s appreciation for hemp, American farmers are also eager to grow it.
“Hemp takes half the water that wheat does, and provides four times the income. Hemp is going to revive farming families in the climate change era.” Explained farmer Ryan Loflin in the Los Angeles Times.
“It takes half the water that wheat does, and provides four times the income. Hemp is going to revive farming families in the climate-change era.”
Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants. One produces a psychoactive effect while the other does not. Because of this fact, they have very similar seeds. States that have legalized either industrial or research-based hemp growing make significant effort to ensure hemp (and not marijuana) is being grown.
The Agricultural Marketing Research Center explains the difference on their website:
“The confusion between industrial hemp and marijuana is based on the visual similarities of widely differentiated varieties of plants. By definition, industrial hemp is high in fiber and low in active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes some cannabis varieties a valued drug. Canada and the European Union maintain this distinction by strictly regulating the THC levels of industrial hemp, requiring it to be less than 0.3 percent, compared to THC levels of between 3 to 30 percent in marijuana.”
These and other logistics are some of the questions that the State Liquor and Cannabis Board will need to address.
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