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.”


6 comments on “Washington state halts issuing of hemp licenses, citing budget shortfall
  1. Mark on

    Guess lawmakers dont want cbd from hemp to canabalize their mj market. Too bad. 313k is nothing in comparison to the industry it can create to help farmers and the poeple of washington
    How about privatizing it? You gonna let some private company come in and expect a share of all the tax revenue?
    Wake up and get the money needed legislated; and, start making growing hemp and do your citizens a favor.

    • Rick Fague on

      I couldn’t agree more, the best way to get the funding is to jump start the industry. The revenue from CBD production alone could fund the entire program.

      But this is Washington we’re talking about, where the state almost bankrupted the liquor industry and then decided to let the same people who did that run the liquor and cannabis board.

      Just a hint, Washington, you have to spend money to make money.

  2. Bonny Jo Peterson on

    Washington State is slow rolling industrial hemp up the hill. The State Legislature and Governor are in support of the WSDA Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program and the funding will come even if it is not included in this Budget Request. The WSDA rather than than the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board oversee the program.

    The $300,000 requested in the WSDA 2018 Supplemental Budget Request covers the program for two years. The application fee is $450 not $750. CBD processing will follow when studies are completed but that will take some time to do right.

  3. Bonny Jo Peterson on

    There will be no new funding for the Washington State Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program included in the 2018 Supplemental Budget. This is not the end of the program though.

    It is now time to get with law makers to get the 2017-2019 Senate Bill 5732 or something better voted into law. The same program funding of $145,000 per year is included in this bill that the Departmemt of Agriculture asked for in their 2018 Supplemental Budget Request.

    There are other options to pursue in Washington while waiting for the Federal Government to pass a bill.

  4. Billibob on

    It is so very typical of Washington State , that they find the need to reinvent the wheel.With so many other states already in production there should not be another delay in the program, $145,000 is a very poor excuse. Penny wise and pound foolish comes to mind, Rick, just anticipating what our Legislature will do about home grows(non mmj).

  5. Steve Sarich on

    I have NO CLUE why ANYONE would want to continue this totally failed program. The WSDA hemp pilot program was on the totally erroneous idea that their rules had to comply with the totally bogus “Statement of Principles” that was published in the Federal Registry on Aug. 12, 2016, just as the totally inexperienced new director of the rulemaking process, Emily Febles, was just starting her job.

    She was sold the idea that they MUST follow the DEA’s new “rules”, as set out in the “Statement of Principles”….. which is has now been totally debunked by Congress and will now be the subject of a “Contempt of Federal Court” motion being heard in the 9th District Court of Appeals on February 15th.

    This is a truly unique case because the Congressmen and Senators who are responsible for writing and passing the 2014 Farm Bill have now weighed in on the case against the DEA in a way that we’ve never witnessed before. Equipped with this amicus brief, the judges in the 9th Circuit don’t have to guess at what the ‘legislative intent” of Congress was…. Congress has chosen to EXPLAIN it to them, as well as explaining how the DEA has been “contravening the will of Congress” when it comes the attempted restrictions they have tried to enforce on hemp farmers….and HAVE here in Washington.

    Here’s a link to amicus brief filed AGAINST the DEA by Congress:

    Since the rules written for industrial hemp were based on DEA “rules” that contravened both the will and intent of Congress as they expressed in the 2014 Farm Bill, but they are also facing “Contempt of Court” for their 14 years of continually violating the 9th Circuit’s 2004 decision against the DEA….. and we are in the 9th Circuit, so this is the law of the land here in Washington>

    So the WSDA is trying to get money to run a failed program that the farmers have rejected and who Congress insists doesn’t comply to the legislative intent of Congress.

    We cannot operate under the current rule, and funding a program that attempts to require us to do so, is suicidal for the future of the hemp industry here in Washington. Any looking to SUPPORT this program is not lobbying on BEHALF of the farmers…. they are attempting to STOP hemp, and especially, CBD production! Bonnie, I’m sure we’d all like to know who the “Industrial Hemp Association of Washington is representing. That should be in your Public Disclosure profile if you are registered and lobbying. I’m guessing that it the recreational marijuana people that you’re representing….. since they are the only ones that MIGHT benefit from funding a program that bans CBD production by the farmers of this state.

    Last April we successfully removed industrial hemp from the state Controlled Substances Act, eliminating all legal restrictions on growing industrial hemp. Now the WSDA is pushing for a law that will recriminalize hemp in Washington…. while attempting to hand CBD hemp production to the recreational marijuana industry, and attempting to pass legislation that will block anyone but these marijuana grow operations for growing and processing CBD in Washington.

    Washington is attempting to set up another monopolistic cannabis industry here….and they will try to do it as quickly as possible to avoid detection by the hemp community.

    Congress will be passing a new farm bill this year that will get rid of the “industrial hemp pilot program(s)” and will make it an open commercial market. If the WSDA gets their way, and it sounds like Bonny Jo Peterson is out to hemp them, Washington will not be able to grow CBD again here, starting in four months, and it’s like the industry will wither and die under the same rules that killed off the program THIS YEAR!

    We need to maintain the status quo for one more legislative session and then operate under the new Federal Farm Bill prior to the growing season.

    Steve Sarich
    WA Hemp Commission
    [email protected]

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