An Idaho legislative committee has approved a bill that would legalize the cultivation of hemp in that state.

The Idaho House Agricultural Affairs Committee on March 14 endorsed legislation that would legalize industrial hemp.

Opponents argued that despite reports of high prices, industrial hemp is challenging to grow and the state can afford to wait until more lessons are learned nationwide.

Supporters cited the crop’s federal approval under the new Farm Bill and said farmers, knowledgeable and accustomed to taking risks, are best served with a combination of state and federal oversight.

The committee passed the original House Bill 122, debated since early February.

If that had not occurred, co-sponsor Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, was prepared to present an alternative that lacked cannabidiol oil approval but authorized the state Department of Agriculture to develop a regulatory plan for industrial hemp production.

The Farm Bill requires strict federal and state oversight for growing and processing hemp, defined as containing no more than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Idaho is the only state that does not authorize hemp in some form.

The House on March 18 passed the bill 63-7.

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