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

Feb 5, 2019
Originally published on February 6, 2019 9:48 am

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.


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.

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