You have before you a bill passed by the Washington Legislature to permit the growing of Industrial Hemp in this state. While many Washington citizens have been awaiting the legal authority to grow hemp that won’t get you high, we are not entirely pleased with this law. It is a start, but it is far from beneficial to the majority of the economic and health interests this legalization could permit. This is the testimony I delivered before the house committee before SB6206 was voted on:
I am going to build my house out of hemp. I have spent the last 2 ½ years studying hemp and hemp building because I believe it is the most sensible building material that can be imagined. Part of my research took me to Europe where I saw chicken farms and heard that chickens fed on hemp seed produced the most nutritious and best tasting eggs imaginable. It makes sense since hemp seeds have the perfect balance of Omega 3 & 6 Fatty acids for the human body.
My research led me to a processing plant in the Netherlands where I learned that local cows that were fed 80 mg a day of the flower tops—the famous CBD rich flowers that are also sold to a burgeoning American health market. This is a market that the Canadians are missing out on because their laws reinforce an illogical fear of the green parts of the Cannabis plant.
My research took me to the Farm Bureau where farmers are curious about using hemp to control erosion and create barriers between berries and streams in Whatcom County. And I have talked to countless organic farmers and gardeners who are interested in hemp because it crowds out weeds and could reduce or eliminate the need for herbicides. Its vigorous growth also makes it valuable in rotation for cleaning toxins and conditioning soil.
The law that is in front of you (that has not passed) does not allow any of these beneficial uses of industrial hemp any time soon, if ever. It gives the future of industrial hemp to a few academics and agribusiness interests under the guise that it could be a public health hazard and needs to be controlled. The opposite is true. Contract farming can take care of itself. Farmers who want pedigreed seeds with verified nutritional content will buy those seeds.
Legal marijuana growers, with strict control of their growth environments and expensive operations, know how to keep pollen away from their female plants. But there is no reason to withhold seed or seed saving from the pioneering public who, left alone, will make very good use of this naturally generous plant. In a state with legal marijuana, it makes no sense that we need background checks on farmers and researchers or GPS coordinates for test plots. These draconian rules were the result of agribusiness lobbies who want to profit by confining American farmers and gardeners to buying their seeds.
Governor Inslee, please do what you can to advise WSU and the Department of Agriculture, to whom the future of Industrial Hemp farming in Washington State has been handed with this law, to be responsive to public input, public health, economic diversity, entrepreneurship, and to representing all the people of this state, not just the narrow corporate economic interests.