Hemp and its cousin marijuana have been a point of contention in the Gem State for many years. Idaho is the only state in the nation that has not legalized any form of marijuana.

The legislature struggled with the issue for years before finally approving a bill that would allow Idahoans to grow and sell hemp products, reports the Idaho Press. Hemp is limited to only a THC level of 0.3%.

Law enforcement has expressed legitimate concerns over the ability to determine what is hemp and what is the illegal weed we call marijuana. Without the knowledge to discern weed from hemp, our excellent law enforcement agencies will have to take the word of suspects that they've got legal hemp and not illegal weed.  

The hemp train picked up incredible momentum when Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill. Idaho's challenge is finding a path towards compliance with the federal guidelines. The challenge is to find a way to ensure that all Idaho-grown hemp does not contain a THC level exceeding 0.3%.

Marijuana backers hail the hemp bill as a sign of progress towards legalizing marijuana in Idaho. A new dispensary has opened up on the Nevada-Idaho border seeking to replicate the financial successes of the Ontario, Oregon dispensaries.   

Could Idaho's current weather conditions slow Idaho farmer's zeal to grow hemp? Growing hemp requires an excessive amount of water, and we're running on empty this year. Regular farms along with family homes have had to conserve water due to this year's drought. Another consideration is the lack of financial rewards for growing hemp. Years ago, when few states had legalized it, farmers who grew hemp could make a lot of money. With more states allowing hemp to be produced and sold, the economic boom might not be as beneficial as it once was.  

The issue of hemp or marijuana was a major story in 2019. Three men were sentenced to six months in jail for transporting hemp in the Gem State, according to KTVB. Their sentence was suspended, but their arrested and impounding of the hemp derailed the hemp legalization legislation at the time.

Governor Brad Little has vowed that Idaho will not legalize marijuana under his watch. Let's hope he can keep his word as the hemp begins to grow here. 

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