Source: Tenth Amendment Center Blog

SALEM, Ore. (Jan. 15, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Oregon House would establish a hemp seed certification program, an important step paving the way for faster development of Oregon’s hemp market, and further nullifying federal prohibition in effect.

Rep. Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) introduced House Bill 2371 (HB2371) on Jan. 9. The legislation would define industrial hemp seed as a flower seed for the purpose of certification and regulation. In other words, hemp seed would be treated just like seed for roses or carnations. The bill would also direct the director of College of Agriculture and dean of College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University to establish program for labeling and certification of agricultural hemp seed.

Seed certification is vital to growing a vibrant hemp industry. A shortage of usable certified seed throws up one of the biggest barriers to hemp research and farming. Few domestic seed sources exist, and the federal government strictly regulates importation and transportation of hemp seeds. By creating a program to encourage the development of certified seed in the state, it will open the door to vastly expand the already growing hemp market.

Last year, Colorado became the first state with a certified hemp seed program.

The Oregon legislature initially legalized industrial hemp production in 2009. When the Oregon Department of Agriculture finally put its licensing and regulatory program in place early in 2014, some farmers began growing hemp, despite high barriers to entry. Legislation passed in 2016 relaxed licensing requirements to encourage further development of a hemp market within the state. The new law already shows signs of delivering on promises to further open up hemp production and processing in the state. Developing a certified seed program would expand things even further.

The federal government still prohibits the cultivation of industrial hemp in most cases, and it prohibits the commercial cultivation of hemp in all cases. Despite federal prohibition, Oregon’s current law sets the foundation for people to nullify the ban by encouraging hemp production in the state. By relaxing regulations and facilitating further development of the hemp industry with this new law, Oregon will ultimately expand this “illegal” market.

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