By Marcus Huff
Staff Writer 

CBD oil and hemp legalization to have minimal legal impact locally


March 14, 2019

WORLAND – On March 6, Governor Mark Gordon signed into law House Bill 0171, which removes hemp and hemp products from regulation by the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act, and authorizes hemp production and processing through the state Department of Agriculture.

The law will also allow merchants to sell Cannabidiol (CBD) oils, and hemp-based products including cosmetics and lotions.

As defined by the bill, “Industrial hemp means all parts and varieties of the plant cannabis sativa, containing no more than three-tenths of one percent of (0.3%) of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”

In Washakie County, County Attorney John Worrall sees no reason why legalization should have a major impact.

“We have no current cases regarding the possession or sale of CBD oils and only one previous case [involving possession of a CBD-based lotion], which was dismissed,” said Worrall. “I don’t see that it’s going to be a problem, as long as the stuff is under the state’s THC threshold.”

In accordance with Wyoming Statute 35-7-2103, industrial hemp is considered an agricultural crop in the state, and once state requirements are upheld, it is legal for a person to grow, harvest, possess, process and sell industrial hemp.

Under the bill, state licensing would be required to grow industrial hemp, after a criminal background check, fingerprint file, and licensing fees are approved by the state. Growers of the product (limited to an agriculture pilot program) would report to the state all buyers, and use only state-provided seeds, acquired from the state Department of Agriculture.

“Where it’s not going to have a huge legal impact, I do see it as recognition, by the state, that there are some aspects of that particular plant that could be beneficial,” stated Worrall.

According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 16 states have legalized industrial hemp production for commercial purposes. Twenty more states have passed laws allowing research and pilot programs. Colorado, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Virginia approved the creation of both research and commercial programs. California, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana and Virginia have established a framework for regulating commercial hemp , yet still consider hemp illegal outside of research programs unless federal law changes.

An $867 billion farm bill passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 369-47 earlier this year (the bill passed the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 87-13) effectively legalized industrial hemp production in the United States.

In the House of Representatives, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney voted for the bill.

After the bill’s passage, Cheney issued a statement, saying that “the Farm Bill is critical for hard-working farmers and ranchers in Wyoming. This bill provides the tools and resources necessary to manage market volatility and risks beyond farmers’ and ranchers’ control including adverse weather conditions and natural disasters. The legislation makes important investments in infrastructure by encouraging rural broadband development, expanding good neighbor authority, and improving forest management practices to better prevent devastating wildfires. In addition, the Farm Bill improves the integrity and oversight of SNAP by modifying waivers and exemptions and providing President Trump the ability to strengthen work requirements. I am also pleased that the important reauthorizations and reforms in this bill are budget neutral.

“Today’s passage of the five-year farm bill reauthorization is essential to the continuity of programs relied on by farmers and ranchers in Wyoming as they work every day to feed the nation.”

Despite the passage of hemp legalization in Wyoming, Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness warns against the possession or production of non-state regulated hemp or CBD oils.

“If you are found in possession of items that are not in accordance with state law or attempt to grow your own without USDA approval, you will spend some time in my hotel”, said Rakness, from the Washakie County Law Enforcement Center.


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