STATEHOUSE – We’re one step closer to having a legal hemp industry in Iowa. The Iowa House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill on Tuesday, 95 to 3.
This is the fourth version of the hemp bill and the house adopted the Senate’s version, with a couple of amendments tacked onto it. It sets up a way to regulate hemp and as lawmakers pointed out, creates an enormous opportunity for the state.
“The longer that we wait to pass this type of legislation the more and more missed opportunities, there will be,” said Rep. Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City.
A sense of urgency ran through the Statehouse to pass a hemp bill.
“It would be the right thing to do to cast a yes vote for this and let this industry get moving,” said Rep. Scott Ourth, a Democrat from Ackworth.
Republican Representative and farmer Jarad Klein from Keota helped lead the efforts to get all the nuances right.
“(We were) working through detailed language of making sure that bills elating are proper and when it’s transported, if law enforcement pulls someone over they can verify this is industrial hemp and isn’t something else,” Klein explained.
“This is one thing we can all hang our hat on, go back and tell our constituents we worked hard to put this thing together,” said Rep. Phyllis Thede, a Democrat from Bettendorf.
This bill would allow for the licensing, transportation and production of hemp under regulation of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Representative Klein says while the crop can be lucrative it will also take a major investment of time.
“You’re going to have to walk these fields,” he said. “It’s very labor intensive. So, just understanding the history of agriculture and then bringing in the public safety perspective really helped put this thing over the top.”
The bill would also allow people to sell CBD products, as long as the THC level is below 0.3 percent. Farmers will be regularly checked up on by DALS as well as local and state police, to ensure the crop is what they say it is.
“We believe this assuages any concerns that our caucus has to balance public safety with the production aspects,” says Republican Rep. Jon Jacobsen from Treynor.
One thing’s for certain: Farmers will want to read up on all of before fully embracing this new opportunity.
“It’s incumbent upon us to make sure that we let Iowa farmers know: Don’t rush right into this thing,” said Republican representative Mike Sexton of Rockwell City.
This bill doesn’t legalize marijuana across the board here in Iowa. If anyone doesn’t follow the regulations set forth in it, fines range from $500 all the way up to $2,500.
Because two amendments were tacked on Tuesday, the Senate will need to pass this version of the bill before it goes to Governor Reynolds’ desk.