Washington state halts issuing of hemp licenses, citing budget shortfall

 Washington has stopped issuing hemp licenses because the program is too expensive, the latest hurdle for a state that led the nation in marijuana adoption but has lagged on hemp.

The Washington Department of Agriculture won’t issue hemp licenses for 2018 unless state lawmakers devote $313,000 to the program, according to Capital Press, which covers agriculture for six Western states.

That’s the price tag the state said it needs to oversee hemp growers and test crops for THC content.

“Without the funding, it’s not a sustainable program,” agency spokesman Hector Castro said.

Washington state’s hemp struggles aren’t new. The state didn’t allow hemp production until this year and has just seven licensed growers. By comparison, neighboring Oregon has 233 hemp growers this year.

Washington does not allow hemp to used for cannabidiol extraction, the most valuable use of the plant. And the state charges hefty application and licensing fees, $750 a year plus an additional $200 or more for testing for large grows.

A post on the Washington state website last month alerted hemp growers that while they can apply for 2018, they shouldn’t expect to get a license:

“We will continue to accept new applications to the program for now. However, due to this unsustainable budgetary shortfall, we will not process these applications or collect application fees.”