Olympia, Wa., February 17, 2014– State legislators in the Washington House of Representatives just voted unanimously (97:0) to approve HB1888, which effectively nullifies the federal ban on hemp within the state of Washington.
State Rep. Matthew Shea (R-Spokane Valley) is the bill’s main sponsor. “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,” said Shea.
From the bill:
“This act attempts to reassert this original meaning of the commerce clause over wide areas of policy and effectively nullify federal laws and regulations that violate such limitations by regulating commerce and other activities that are solely intrastate.”
Experts count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. currently imports hemp products, primarily from China and Canada.
Last week, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”
…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin weighed in on the Washington state legislature’s move:
“While Pres. Obama and the federal government play games by allowing limited hemp growing for “research,” legislators in Washington State are telling the feds to butt out by moving forward with a bill to allow full scale farming and production of this essential crop,” he said. “Every state should nullify these unconstitutional federal restrictions on industrial hemp.”
Three states – Colorado, Oregon and Vermont – have already passed ssimilar measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013 and have essentially ignored the limitations set forth in the new federal Farm Bill.
The Washington State Senate will now take up the bill. A vote is expected within the coming weeks.
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