BOISE — A bill to legalize hemp in Idaho passed the House overwhelmingly Monday.
The bill, which would align Idaho law with last year’s Farm Bill legalizing hemp federally and set up a regulatory process surrounding its cultivation, passed 63-7. Six of the seven “No” votes were from eastern Idaho — Reps. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby; Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls; Gary Marshall, R-Idaho Falls; Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg; Jerald Raymond, R-Menan; and Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg.
“This is not an effort to legalize marijuana,” said Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley.
The bill comes as a Colorado company is suing Idaho agencies, trying to get its shipment of 6,700 pounds of declared hemp that Idaho State Police confiscated in January during a traffic stop and arrest. The driver is facing mandatory minimum sentences of five years in prison. House Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said she has been in contact with his family and wishes the state could do something to help them.
“For the future 19-year-olds, for the future truck drivers, I’m very happy that at least we’re helping them,” Rubel said. “It’s shocking to me that people can face criminal liability for this. We need to fix that.”
The bill now heads to the Senate.