On Thursday, April 4th, the Washington State House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government had a hearing on HB1888, the Hemp Freedom Act. The bill had already passed the committee on Government Accountability & Oversight by a vote of 8-0.
The federal government has no constitutional authority to ban the production of this industrial plant. HB1888 would nullify that unconstitutional federal control, and return it where it belongs, to the state of Washington.
The United States is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp, which is used in food products, clothing, oil and much more. The top exporters are China and Canada. At this time of economic difficulty, HB1888 would not only expand freedom and support the Constitution, it would also be a great jobs bill.
Although the hearing went well and the committee members seemed to be supportive, they did not vote to move the bill to the floor. However, there is still a chance for this bill to get a floor vote.
Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp, and Minority Leader, Richard DeBolt, can choose to pull this bill from the committee to the floor. The bill sponsors are urging us to call these leaders and ask them to do so.
1. Call Speaker Chopp’s office and strongly, but politely, urge him to support the economic benefits, and job creation of industrial hemp by bringing this bill out of committee to a floor vote.
Follow that up with a phone call to Minority Leader, Richard DeBolt.
2. Share with your friends and neighbors about the benefits of industrial hemp, and urge them to call. This is a non partisan issue that could greatly benefit our state!
The Washington Department of Agriculture spoke in favor of the bill, and Washington State University also shared their support for their potential research role in evaluating the ability of hemp production to thrive in Washington. Ezra Eickmeyer, Political Director for the Washington Cannabis Association told the committee that this is a great example of pro business legislation meeting pro environment legislation. “This one plant if we open up it’s use, is one of the greatest tools we have for improving our relationship with the environment in a way that increases business and increases our own domestic supplies.” Manufacturer, James Ellis, also spoke to this, as his business has imported 30,000$ worth of industrial hemp from Romania in the last 12 months for use in sturdy and eco friendly pet toys. If industrial hemp were grown right here at home, not only would they be free from the waiting period of importing, but their money would be going back into the local economy.
In the state of Washington, we specifically use a great deal of hemp in the form of sisal twine, to secure grape vines in our vineyards, as well as to secure our hops plants. We could be producing for our own use, rather than importing. Bill Sponsor, Representative Matt Shea, also spoke to the many other uses of industrial hemp in the state of Washington, including textiles, paper, oil, yarns, carpeting, home furnishings, plastics, as well as oil and seedcake used for food and beverages (just to name a few). “This is a phenomenal bill, expanding freedom, allowing jobs to be created – a new market here in Washington state – the potential state economic impact is in the tens of millions if not hundreds of millions.”
LEGISLATION AND TRACKING
Not in Washington? Find model legislation to introduce in your state here.
Track the status of the Hemp Freedom Act in states around the country here.