Idaho Hemp Overview

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What Is Hemp?

Hemp is a cannabis plant containing no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry-weight basis. It is used for medical and industrial purposes. THC is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant that causes intoxication and euphoria. Cannabis plants containing more than 0.3% THC are legally and commercially referred to as marijuana or cannabis. Marijuana has between 5% and 35% THC. Due to the low content of THC in hemp, users rarely get high after consumption. Hemp and cannabis being varieties of the cannabis plant, often look alike and can be mistaken for each other. However, they have varying legal statuses. Marijuana is illegal in the U.S. and listed as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act. It is also illegal in Idaho for recreational and medical purposes. In contrast, hemp is legal in both Idaho and the U.S.

Hemp is commonly referred to as industrial hemp because of its use in manufacturing industrial products such as cosmetics, biofuels, paper, rope, textiles, and plastics. Hemp is also used for medicinal purposes, including the use of CBD in drugs. The parts of hemp used for medicinal and industrial purposes and its derivatives include:

  • Hemp Seeds: These are the seeds of hemp plants. They are rich in protein, fatty acids, fiber, and magnesium. They can be used to prevent coronary diseases and regulate heartbeat
  • Hemp Extract: Hemp extract is made from crushed hemp flowers and can be used to reduce stress and anxiety. It can also be used to relieve chronic pain
  • Hemp Flowers: Hemp flowers can be used to treat anxiety disorders, and it is low in THC. It can also be used to manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in patients who are unresponsive to other therapies
  • Hemp Hearts: Hemp hearts are rich in proteins, vitamins, and healthy fats. It is obtained by removing the shells from hemp seeds. Hemp hearts can be used to improve heart health, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of diabetes, and provide relief from constipation
  • Hemp Oil: Hemp oil or hemp seed oil is an omega-rich oil made by cold-pressing hemp seeds. It is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Hemp oil can be used topically or orally as a pain reliever and in the production of cosmetics
  • Hemp Milk: Hemp milk can be used instead of dairy farm milk and is produced by blending hemp seeds and water. It has a higher protein level than beef. It can be consumed by children and those who are THC-intolerant. It contains omega-6 fatty acids, which induce anti-inflammatory effects

Is Hemp Legal in Idaho?

Industrial hemp is legal in Idaho. In 2014, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) was enacted in the United States to permit state departments of agriculture or higher educational institutions to cultivate hemp for research purposes, provided it is permitted under state law. The Act defined industrial hemp as any part of the cannabis plant with not more than 0.3% THC concentration on a dry weight basis. However, hemp remained illegal at the federal level and was still on the controlled substances list under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill), enacted in 2018, removed hemp from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule I list of controlled substances. It allowed financial institutions in the U.S. to support industrial hemp businesses and process their transactions. It also allowed the cultivation of hemp on a large scale by licensed hemp businesses. In addition, it permitted interstate transportation and sales of hemp products. The bill allows states to enact laws to legalize hemp and propose hemp production plans for approval by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Interested hemp producers in states without hemp production plans can obtain hemp cultivation licenses directly from the USDA.

In 2021, after detailed investigations and research into hemp, Idaho enacted the Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act (House Bill 126) to legalize industrial hemp in Idaho in 2021. The state became the 50th to legalize industrial hemp in the U.S. The Act allows the cultivation and sale of hemp with THC not exceeding 0.3%. However, Idaho prohibits the manufacture of hemp products with any amount of Delta-9 THC. Hemp-derived products containing THC are illegal in the state. Idaho residents interested in cultivating and processing industrial hemp must obtain licenses from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA). House Bill 126 prohibits the home cultivation of hemp without a permit. It allows industrial hemp to be taken across state lines.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Idaho?

The Idaho Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act specifically lists the parts of hemp that are legal in the state and prohibits the remaining parts. The legal parts of the hemp plant under the state’s hemp law include sterilized hemp seed, hemp stalks, stalk fibers, derivatives from the stalk, and hemp seeds processed into oil. In addition, Idaho only permits hemp seed protein powder, hulled hemp seed oil, and hemp seed in food or as edibles. Moreover, Idaho only allows THC-free hemp products. Idaho residents must obtain hemp production licenses from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) before they can cultivate hemp for edibles or food products. While residents can smoke hemp in Idaho, only THC-free hemp may be smoked in public.

Can A Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Idaho?

Municipalities in Idaho cannot prohibit the cultivation or processing of industrial hemp within their jurisdictions. However, local government authorities may restrict hemp cultivation to specific zones in their jurisdictions.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process Hemp in Idaho

The Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act prohibits the cultivation or processing of industrial hemp without a license in Idaho. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) administers industrial hemp production. There are two types of industrial hemp licenses in the state:

  • Producer license: Producer license holders can grow and market hemp. They may sell hemp plants with not more than 0.3% THC to handlers
  • Handler license: License holders can process raw hemp plants into hemp products but cannot cultivate hemp. The finished hemp products must be THC-free and can be sold to stores

Interested persons or entities may apply for both licenses. Applicants must apply through the ISDA hemp application portal and will need the following for the application:

  • Background check report from the Idaho State Police or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The background check must be done for all key participants not earlier than six months before the application
  • Facility information, including maps of the cultivation or production site
  • Detailed and accurate information for all key participants
  • Applicants for producer licenses may include their preferred laboratories for sample testing
  • Pay applicable fees

The ISDA will mail licenses to successful applicants, which must be renewed annually. The ISDA receives applications for hemp licenses between September 1 and December 31 every year. Interested parties may contact the ISDA at (208) 332-8500 for further inquiries.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Idaho?

The initial application cost for a hemp producer or handler license in Idaho is $100. However, the annual fee for a producer license is $500, while a handler license costs $1,000. New licensees must pay both the application and annual license fees.

How to Grow Hemp in Idaho

Hemp can grow in most climates and weather conditions. It is resilient and thrives in most areas, except desert or mountainous regions. It is best to cultivate hemp during the frost-free season (May - September). The following steps will help assure optimal hemp harvest in Idaho:

  • Select an appropriate grow site: The best condition for growing hemp in Idaho is well-aerated, high organic matter, loamy soil. The soil should be rich in phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. The pH of the soil should be between 6.0 and 7.5, and the soil temperature should be between 46 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil can be tested before planting to ascertain if it is appropriate for hemp cultivation. Nitrogen-rich compost and manure can be used to enrich poor soil
  • Acquire good quality seeds: The quality of the hemp seeds will determine the quality and quantity of yield. It is necessary to source quality seeds from reliable merchants. The purpose of growing hemp will help in determining the best hemp seed strain to buy. The CBD-THC ratio of the seed must also be considered when deciding on the best strain of seed for production
  • Plant the seeds: Hemp seeds can be planted directly on the grow site. Seed providers will usually provide planting instructions that must be adhered to. Generally, dark brown seeds should be planted in holes between 0.5 and 0.7 inches deep. The space between plants is determined by the purpose of the hemp. Hemp plants intended for hemp seed or CBD should be well-spaced, while those intended for fiber should be planted close to one other
  • Maintain the plants: Hemp plants require a lot of water, sunlight, and care in their first six weeks. They require about 20 - 30 inches of rainfall for optimal yield. Where rainfall is inadequate, irrigation can be used to augment. Insecticides and pesticides should be applied to keep diseases and insects away. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a list of pesticides that may be used on hemp plants. Beyond six weeks of planting, hemp plants require less care and monitoring
  • Harvest: Hemp plants with flowers and seeds indicate maturity. Hemp plants may be harvested between 70 and 150 days of planting in Idaho. The purpose of planting the hemp determines the time of harvest. Hemp cultivated for hemp fiber may be harvested in 70 days. Hemp cultivated for hemp seeds may be harvested in 110 days, while those intended for CBD production can be harvested in 115 - 140 days

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Idaho?

Hemp flower is illegal and prohibited in Idaho.

Hemp vs THC

Hemp is different from THC. Hemp is composed of several cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Delta-9 THC (simply referred to as THC) is responsible for the elation experienced by cannabis consumers. The amount of Delta-9 THC in hemp may not exceed 0.3% legally. Because hemp only contains small amounts of THC, it is unlikely to get users high when consumed in moderate doses. Hemp-derived THC products are illegal in Idaho, but the state only permits THC-free hemp products.

Hemp vs CBD

CBD is one of the compounds (cannabinoids) found in hemp. It is usually found in abundance in hemp and does not intoxicate users. While hemp must not contain more than 0.3% of THC, it may contain a large concentration of CBD, sometimes up to 20%.CBD can be made from marijuana and hemp. However, only hemp-derived CBD products with 0% THC and made from legal parts of the hemp plant are permitted and legally available for sale in Idaho.

Hemp Applications

Hemp is used for industrial and medicinal purposes. Some of the industrial uses of hemp in Idaho are:

  • Fuel: Industrial hemp can be made into biofuels such as biodiesel and bioethanol. Biofuels are biodegradable and do not produce emissions like fossil fuels. Hemp biofuel prolongs the lifespan of automobiles because of its enhanced lubricating qualities. Biodiesel is made from hemp oil and may be used instead of fossil diesel in diesel engines
  • Solar Panel: Industrial hemp can be used to produce durable solar panels. Hemp solar panels are made from hemp fibers and are considerably cheaper than those made from graphene or silicon
  • Textiles: Hemp textiles are made from hemp fiber. Hemp textiles offer better ultraviolet (UV) protection than other fibers, and it is more durable than silk or cotton. They can also be easily integrated with other materials to produce better hybrid clothing
  • Bioplastics: Hemp plastics are made from hemp fiber and can be recycled indefinitely. They are biodegradable and are suitable for the climate, unlike petrochemical plastics
  • Paper: Hemp paper is manufactured from the pulp of industrial hemp fiber. It is cheaper to produce hemp paper because it has lower lignin content than wood. Its superior tear resistance makes it useful for specialty papers like filter paper, banknotes, and cigarette paper
  • Automobile parts: Hemp bioplastics can be used to make automobile parts, which offer better fuel efficiency due to the reduction in weight. It is also more resistant to dents than steel and glass
  • Cosmetics: Hemp seed oil is used to treat skin conditions and produce several beauty products. Hemp seed oil contains vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids, minerals, and antioxidants that are beneficial to different skin types
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