Wash. House votes to allow industrial hemp

Wash. House votes to allow industrial hemp
A hemp field. File photo.
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Lawmakers moved a step closer to allowing the state to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp.

House Bill 1888 passed unanimously in the House on Monday and now heads to the Senate, which is considering its own industrial hemp measure. The House bill authorizes the Director of the Department of Agriculture to issue licenses to grow industrial hemp. The department would be designated as the only source and supplier of seeds used for industrial hemp production.

The measure also requires the state Department of Agriculture to work with the Liquor Control Board to prevent cross-pollination between industrial hemp and recreational marijuana. Hemp, like marijuana, comes from the cannabis plant but has much less THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that makes people high.

Washington voters passed Initiative 502 in November 2012 to legalize and regulate the recreational use of pot by adults over 21, and the first state-licensed pot stores are expected to open in the coming months.