Oregon Hemp Farming to Continue After Senate Blocks Moratorium Bill

The Oregon Senate put a stop to a bill Monday that would have suspended hemp growing operations in the state for two years.

The bill had passed the House by a vote of 53-6, and had strong support among marijuana producers, which worry that nearby hemp operations could result in cross-pollination. Hemp, which typically contains less than 0.3% THC, could bring down THC levels in marijuana plants, thereby making the resultant product less valuable.

Hemp advocates claimed that the bill would have spelled death for the industry. The bill would have required the revocation of all 13 hemp licenses currently in circulation, due to the state’s failure (in violation of Oregon Dept. of Agriculture rules) to get GPS-data on the location and size of proposed hemp farms. It would also have banned hemp farms within 1,000 feet of schools, which would have knocked out one hemp farm in the southern town of Murphy. The farm’s trade group, the Oregon Sungrown Growers Guild, lobbied for the legislation.

Cliff Thomason, who represents a group of investors in the Murphy farm, said the bill’s defeat “is a victory for hemp farmers.” He also noted that his investor’s group has vowed to grow male plants inside in order to keep pollen from getting onto nearby marijuana plants.

State Agriculture Director Katy Coba said that there remain “a lot of questions” about the state’s hemp program, and then new legislation is likely to come up in the 2016 session.




Photo Credit: Miran Rijavec

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