Idaho’s House State Affairs Committee has voted to hold a hemp-legalization bill, likely killing the measure for this year, the Capital Press reports. Lawmakers in the committee have the authority to reintroduce the measure, which was approved by the Senate last month, but it’s unlikely to do so this session.
Idaho had become a flashpoint for hemp policy following federal legalization in 2018 after law enforcement agencies in the state continued arresting truckers shipping hemp through the state, which remained a violation of Idaho law.
Last November, Republican Gov. Brad Little signed an executive order to explicitly allow transportation of out-of-state hemp shipments through the state. Little called it “a stop gap measure” until lawmakers could develop a “permanent regulatory framework” around the plant. Little’s executive order only allows hemp to be transported “on interstate highways and in the immediate vicinity of an interstate highway.” In May the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a memo allowing interstate hemp transport, but Idaho police continued to make arrests despite federal law and the USDA guidance.
Opponents of Idaho’s hemp legalization argued that the reforms would set the stage for recreational cannabis legalization and that other states have found it difficult to differentiate between hemp and THC-rich cannabis, which makes prosecuting cannabis crimes problematic for law enforcement officials.
Only Idaho, South Dakota, and Mississippi have not legalized hemp cultivation. The USDA released federal hemp production rules last October.