Bill to legalize hemp production in Idaho defeated

Idaho lawmakers defeated a measure that would have legalized hemp, leaving the state as one of three in the country that don’t allow the crop.

The measure was voted down in a House committee Wednesday, The Lewiston Tribune reported.

Some opponents said the change could lead to marijuana legalization, while others argued that Idaho should not participate in hemp production because federal law requires states to seek approval to regulate the crop.

“Hemp is a great product, but this is a bad bill,” Republican Hari Heath said.

Mississippi and South Dakota, which has pending legislation, are the only two other states that haven’t authorized hemp production.

South Dakota has just a few days left in the lawmaking term to try to overcome last year’s failed attempt to legalize hemp agriculture. Noem vetoed that measure, calling it  a strategy to “make legalized marijuana inevitable.”

This year, Noem says she’ll approve hemp but that lawmakers need to allocate $3.5 million for a hemp program. Noem says the money is needed because a hemp program would change the way the state enforces marijuana laws and require testing equipment, drug storage and beefed-up law enforcement.