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New Farm Bill Legalized Hemp. But There's Still Confusion

Idaho State Police seized more than 6,700 pounds of cannabis product from a truck outside Boise. The owners of the cargo say it's hemp.
Idaho State Police
Idaho State Police seized more than 6,700 pounds of cannabis product from a truck outside Boise. The owners of the cargo say it's hemp.

Last year’s farm bill made it legal to grow and transport hemp in the U.S. But a recent seizure in Idaho this month illustrates the confusion over its legality in states, especially those with a hemp cultivation ban on the books.

 Click 'play' to hear the audio version of this story.

Police seized the 6,700 pounds of cannabis product from a commercial truck along a highway just outside of Boise.The cargo was being transported by a legal hemp growing operation in Colorado across to Oregon.

The owners believed as hemp, the product was legal under the new farm bill legislation. But here’s the confusion: That federal legislation also allows states to develop their own rules and regulations around hemp production. And most states haven’t done that yet, including Idaho where it remains illegal to grow. 

"There might be some more conservative Mountain West States that haven’t even dipped their toe into the CBD pool, or the medical marijuana pool, that might be resistant still to hemp," says John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. 

While states can develop their own rules and regulation,the U.S. Department of Agriculture is also providing a regulatory framework they can use. As part of that framework Hudak believes states could choose to opt out of the new hemp market all together.

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Amanda Peacher is an Arthur F. Burns fellow reporting and producing in Berlin in 2013. Amanda is from Portland, Oregon, where she works as the public insight journalist for Oregon Public Broadcasting. She produces radio and online stories, data visualizations, multimedia projects, and facilitates community engagement opportunities for OPB's newsroom.
Amanda Peacher
Amanda Peacher works for the Mountain West News Bureau out of Boise State Public Radio. She's an Idaho native who returned home after a decade of living and reporting in Oregon. She's an award-winning reporter with a background in community engagement and investigative journalism.
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