Capital Press reveals that Washington legislators tucked $100,000 to market hemp and license farmers and processors into a new state budget passed March 8. The amount is less than half the $287,000 department requested, but ensures Washington remains among the states trying to build a hemp industry.
The department is discussing exactly what it can do with the money and has not set a timetable for issuing and renewing licenses, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.
The state’s hemp program, a necessity to stay within federal law, has been on hold since late last year. The agriculture department said it couldn’t continue overseeing hemp unless lawmakers appropriated funds to augment license fees.
Bonnie Jo Peterson, founder of the Industrial Hemp Association of Washington, said that she found lawmakers still backed hemp.
“Across the board, the reception was positive,” she said. “On both sides of the aisle and both sides of the mountains, there is support of hemp.”
Cory Sharp, who cultivated about half the 180 acres of hemp grown in Washington last year, said Tuesday that he will forgo planting this year. He said his company, HempLogic, was too busy developing a mobile hemp processor in partnership with a Colorado equipment maker. He said he has plans to take the decorticator to about 20 states.
A license to grow hemp in Washington costs $750, including an application fee. Oregon has a grower registration fee of $1,300.
Peterson also said Washington could make hemp more attractive by allowing the production of cannabinoid, commonly known as CBD, an oil marketed as a nutritional supplement. CBD is widely available, though the Drug Enforcement Administration maintains it is illegal.
The department issued seven one-year licenses to grow or process hemp before suspending the program. Two licenses went to Washington State University researchers and two went to tribes. The department reported collecting $8,139 from license holders, while spending $146,000 on oversight.