Governor Issues Executive Order Legalizing Hemp Transport Through Idaho

by Ruth Brown with the Idaho Statesmen

Gov. Brad Little issued an executive order on Tuesday allowing interstate transportation of hemp through Idaho to resolve conflicts between state and federal law, according to a news release from his office.

The order “serves as a stopgap measure” until the Legislature can come up with a permanent solution in 2020’s session, according to the news release. “The executive order does not authorize or legalize the production of hemp, its byproducts, oils, or any other derivative prohibited by Idaho law.”

The 2018 farm bill legalized the shipment and transportation of hemp under federal law, but it still remains illegal to possess in Idaho, whose law makes no distinction between hemp and marijuana.

This became a problem for three truck drivers who were charged initially with felony drug trafficking for transporting hemp. They later pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and were sentenced to unsupervised probation.

“In late October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued interim final rules regulating the production of hemp in states that have legalized it,” according to Little’s office. “Upon publication of those interim final rules, Idaho law now likely conflicts with federal law with respect to interstate transportation of hemp.”

The governor’s office said Tuesday that executive action was needed to ensure Idaho laws are “faithfully executed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Idaho residents from the illicit drug trade.”

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture, Idaho State Police and Idaho Transportation Department will promulgate temporary rules and work cooperatively to carry out the executive order, the release said.

“From the start, I have stated I am not opposed to a new crop such as hemp, but that we need to be sure the production and shipping of industrial hemp is not a front to smuggle illicit drugs into and around Idaho,” Little said in a news release. “We expected new federal rules would eventually result in hemp lawfully traveling across state lines. My administration has prepared for this development, working with partners in law enforcement and other interested parties.”

Little noted that new rules came out “when the Idaho Legislature could not quickly respond,” so his order can fill the gap until “the Idaho Legislature develops a permanent regulatory framework around hemp.”

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