Senate debate on amended hemp bill: ‘An option for our growers,’ ‘Allow us to differentiate,’ ‘An uphill battle’

Abby Lee Senate debate hemp

Sen. Abby Lee, opening the debate in the Senate today on HB 122a, the amended hemp legalization bill, said, “There are some good things in these amendments. … We expect this to start immediately … to work on these issues, to develop rules and a process so that this can be an option for our growers in Idaho. That’s all it does.” She added, “It doesn’t automatically legalize something until we get to a state plan.”

“This is an agriculture issue,” Lee, R-Fruitland, told the Senate. “This gives us maybe a small step … forward to allow our growers an option.”

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, spoke in favor of the bill. “Under our current code hemp is marijuana,” he said. “This will allow us to differentiate.”

Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, spoke against the bill. He said since hemp doesn’t use pesticides, it requires lots of manual labor. “To me it’s another market for I’d say illegal labor,” Patrick said. “The federal government basically controls interstate commerce. And until there’s a way for our police department, whoever’s checking the highways to immediately tell the difference between hemp and marijuana, I think it’s an uphill battle. I think we’re a little ahead of the game.”

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