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Rules adopted for industrial hemp research

OLYMPIA – The state Department of Agriculture has adopted rules establishing the Industrial Hemp Research Project.

The rules, signed by Director Derek Sandison, will take effect May 13. A state law approved last year directed the department to design a program that would license researchers to grow, process and market industrial hemp.

Details in the rules include:

• How to apply for a state license to participate in the pilot project, the types of licenses that will be available and fees for each.

• How to obtain, handle, transport and store approved industrial hemp seed.

• The state’s authority and process for inspecting, sampling and testing industrial hemp seeds, plants and products.

• Licensees’ data and reporting requirements.

“It was important for us to move quickly to fulfill our statutory obligations,” said Sandison. “We heard during the comment period that these rules may not meet everyone’s specific needs.

“However, it’s critical that we move quickly so licensees can take advantage of the growing season. Our team will be looking for opportunities to improve these rules to support industrial hemp in our state.”

As a cannabis plant, industrial hemp is considered a controlled substance under federal law. However, the 2014 Farm Bill authorized state agriculture departments to grow the crop for research purposes under state legislation.

Industrial hemp has many potential uses. It’s a source of fiber used in textiles, rope, paper and building materials, and hemp seed can be used for food, oil and other products. Thirty U.S. states have passed legislation regarding industrial hemp, either legalizing production, allowing research and pilot programs, or a combination of both.

Hemp contains extremely low levels of THC, the active component in marijuana. It is one of the world’s oldest domesticated crops.

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