The Washington State Department of Agriculture recently adopted rules for its Industrial Hemp Research Pilot (“IHRP”). This program allows researchers to grow, produce, process industrial hemp.
Washington State has a regulatory system in place in regard to the possession, production, processing and sale of recreational and medical marijuana. Until now, however, the Washington State has not regulated industrial hemp.
As opposed to marijuana, industrial hemp is bred for its fiber and seed oil and is defined as cannabis that contains a THC concentration of 0.3 percent or less by dry weight. Also unlike marijuana, industrial hemp is legal pursuant to federal law under certain limited conditions. Per the Federal Farm Bill, institutions of higher education and state agricultural departments may grow industrial hemp for research purposes.
The adopted rules for IHRP go into effect May 13, 2017. There will be four types of licenses available: Industrial Hemp Grower License; Industrial Hemp Processor and Marketer License; Industrial Hemp Combination License; and Industrial Hemp Distributor License. The rules further detail how to obtain, handle, transport and store approved industrial hemp seed; the state’s authority and process for inspecting, sampling and testing industrial hemp seeds, plants and products; and Licensees’ data and reporting requirements.
Importantly, licensees will not be able to grow both marijuana and industrial hemp. To prevent cross-pollination, the state is prohibiting the growing of industrial marijuana four miles from any licensed marijuana production facility. Additionally, industrial hemp cannot be grown for CBD since, according to state statute industrial hemp cannot be processed for human consumption except for its seeds.
Although the state’s pilot program is limited, it is a step in the right direction. The potential use of industrial hemp is vast and could be of great benefit to the state economy and environment. Industrial hemp can be used in textiles, rope, paper, and building materials, and hemp seed can be used for food, oil and other products. Washington State will now be following suit with thirty other states that have already legalized industrial hemp in some form.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana and industrial hemp in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.