A resolution supporting the legalization of industrial hemp production died Wednesday in the Idaho House Agricultural Affairs Committee. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tom Trail (R-Moscow), who said hemp could be a multi-million dollar industry for Idaho farmers and create jobs and tax revenues for the state.
"To get a high from industrial hemp you'd have to build a cigar the size of a telephone pole," Trail explained.
But Rep. Dennis Lake (R-Blackfoot) objected, saying allowing industrial hemp would place an unneeded burden on law enforcement. Police could have trouble differentiating between hemp and marijuana, Lake worried.
Trail responded by saying that during his research for the bill, he had met with law enforcement in Canada, where hemp production is legal, and they told him marijuana growers are not "stupid enough" to plant in hemp fields because of cross-pollination. Marijuana plants pollinated by hemp plants would see their THC content shrink and their fiber content increase, making them less desirable to pot smokers.
Another cosponsor of the resolution, Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise) told lawmakers the state is losing out on jobs and tax revenues because of the federal hemp ban. The public and lawmakers suffer from a "fundamental misunderstanding of what hemp is," he said. "It's as American as apple pie. Both Washington and Jefferson grew hemp, and the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper," he added.
A third cosponsor, Rep. Eric Anderson (R-Priest Lake), echoed the charge that America is missing out because of the federal hemp ban. "We spend hundreds of millions buying it from Canada," Anderson said. "There is not a day that goes by that we don't use hemp products."
That wasn't enough to sway their fellow lawmakers. Rep. Lake proposed killing the bill, but that motion failed on a 5-5 tie vote. Rep. Donna Pence (D-Gooding) then asked the committee to send the measure to the full House for further consideration. That request also failed on a 5-5 tie vote, effectively killing the bill.