Idaho officials work on hemp plan |  Different cultures

BOISE (AP) – Idaho officials are working on a hemp plan to be presented to federal officials this fall for farmers to grow next year.

Chanel Tewalt, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told Capital Press in a story last week that the state intends to submit its plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture by September 1.

Idaho lawmakers earlier this year approved the cultivation and sale of hemp products that contain 0.3 percent or less of THC, the cannabis compound that gives marijuana its high.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture plans to submit the hemp plan to Republican Governor Brad Little and the Idaho State Police for approval in early August.

Little, who signed the Idaho Hemp Licensing Act in April, and law enforcement officials have historically raised concerns that hemp could be used as a cover for growing or transporting marijuana.

The overall effort is to align state law with federal law contained in the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp. Idaho is the only state that still treats hemp like marijuana. That has prevented Idaho framers from growing hemp, which supporters say can be a lucrative harvest.

If legalized in Idaho, farmers could sell hemp seeds and a hemp-derived extract called cannabidiol, or CBD, which is widely viewed as a health aid. In its purified distilled form, CBD oil costs thousands of dollars per kilogram, and farmers can make tens of thousands of dollars per acre from hemp plants to produce it. This distillate can also be converted into a crystallized form or powder.

Much of the state’s plan is concerned with making sure the hemp plants in Idaho contain 0.3 percent or less THC. Plants that contain more would have to be destroyed.

Part of the process of obtaining federal approval included creating administrative regulations through negotiated rulemaking meetings held in June. Tewalt said the U.S. Department of Agriculture must approve these rules as part of the Idaho plan as well as the new law passed by lawmakers. State officials must also prove that the state can meet the requirements of the federal regulations.

“There’s a handling part of the (draft) rule because the new Idaho law refers to handling,” Tewalt said. “We have to make sure that the product can get from the farm to a drying plant or grain plant. We took that into account in the process. “

Growers are required to pay $ 500 for an annual license and $ 250 per lot for inspection. Handler processors would pay $ 1,000 for a license and $ 500 for an annual inspection.

“Inspections are required by federal rule and will be state rule,” Tewalt said.