After passing the House of Representatives, a new bill, HB1819 HD2 SD3, is on its way to the Governor. The bill would establish how the state would grow, process, and sell industrial hemp in Hawaii.
The state has tried before to get a similar hemp bill passed but failed to get the Governor’s approval. Governor Ige stated that a big reason he wasn’t comfortable signing the bill was that it wasn’t enforceable.
Changes to the new bill include making testing procedures line up with federal guidelines and moving to ban smokable hemp and CBD food products. Measures would also limit hemp from being processed within 500 feet of a playground, school, state park, recreation area, residential neighborhood, hospital, or daycare facility.
The setback rules are harsher than existing federal guidelines that don’t specify that kind of rule. Hawaii is also opting to stay out of the local licensing process. They stated wanting to save the costs of starting an entirely new state agency, which would cost an estimated $500,000, as the primary reason. Farmers will be required to apply for a license directly with the USDA.
Despite the uproar from farmers hoping to sell premium-priced smokable hemp, there is excitement for the crop. While almost half of last year’s crop being destroyed across the state because it tested hot, they are still hopeful. Hawaii has an ideal climate for the crop with farmers able to get up to three harvests per year on the land, harvesting up to 70 tons of hemp per acre.