Washington’s Department of Agriculture is considering hiking the state’s industrial hemp licensing fee from $300 to $7,500, The Capital Press reports.
The 2,400 percent price increase would be necessary to cover the cost of managing hemp regulations throughout the state — lawmakers, however, could avoid the enormous price hike by establishing subsidies or diverting tax dollars to help pay for the program.
Agriculture regulators are concerned that the price increase will further repress the state’s industrial hemp program, which is already pretty minimal compared to other states and to Washington’s robust adult-use cannabis market.
“That really is unfortunate. It’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re focused on raising enough money, otherwise we can’t operate the program.” — Hector Castro, spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, via The Capital Press
This year in Washington, there is just one hemp crop being grown — a 100-acre plot planted by the Colville Confederated Tribes in north-central Washington.
There was one other hemp farm licensed in the state this year, but Diane Zimberoff, owner of Wellness Paradise Farm, said that by the time they had received their license it was too late in the season to plant a new crop. “The whole process is convoluted,” Zimberoff said.
Meanwhile, federal industrial hemp legislation from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is pending as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, which still has not had its differing House and Senate versions fully reconciled. In fact, the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed states to individually legalize pilot industrial hemp programs, officially expired yesterday, September 30.