Washington hemp oversight restored after state allocates $100,000 for regulators

A $100,000 infusion for Washington agriculture regulators has saved the state’s hemp oversight program – but the lifeline has failed to convince the largest grower to plant another crop.

The money came in the final budget agreement at the Washington state legislature, according to Capital Press, which covers agricultural news in the Pacific Northwest.

Washington’s Department of Agriculture had threatened to cut oversight of the hemp program in its second year because earlier budget drafts include funding for it in 2018.

State lawmakers added $100,000 to save the program, far less than the $287,000 the agency said it needed. The state had just seven hemp growers in 2017, the first year it permitted modern hemp production.

Cory Sharp, who cultivated about half the 180 acres of hemp grown in Washington last year, says he won’t grow hemp this year. He cautioned other Washington hemp farmers to not plant too many acres.

“The processing has just not caught up with the growing,” said Sharp, who plans to focus instead on a plan to bring mobile decortication to hemp farmers in other states.

Washington’s hemp program still bans flower production for hemp-derived CBD, the most valuable use for the hemp plant. State agriculture regulators did not immediately say how many acres the state could expect to see in hemp this year.