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Food, Agriculture, and Animals
In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Washington Senate Votes To Legalize Hemp Farming As Oregon Starts Writing Permits

hemp.jpg
Glyn Baker
/
Creative Commons
File photo of a hemp field outside Southminster, England.

The Washington state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to make hemp farming legal. The measure now goes to the state House for further consideration.

State Senator Brian Hatfield said the plant cousin of marijuana has "tremendous potential" as a crop.

"This is legalizing hemp, which is the non-drug form,” he said. “Once Initiative 502 passed that opened marijuana up for recreational use, it certainly I think makes sense to most of us that hemp be legal in the state."

Hemp crops yield oil, fiber and seeds that can be processed into a wide variety of consumer products.

Oregon lawmakers approved hemp farming in 2009, but it took until this week for the Oregon Department of Agriculture to begin accepting applications for grower and handler permits.

The pending legalization measure in neighboring Washington would not require farmers to get a state permit.

Federal law still forbids cultivation of the cannabis plant, which includes hemp. Advocates are hopeful federal drug agents will leave industrial hemp farmers alone. The Hemp Industries Association says growers in three states -- Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont -- harvested crops without interference last year.