PROVIDENCE R.I. (June 20, 2016) – The Rhode Island legislature has passed a bill to legalize the production and processing of industrial hemp for commercial purposes in the state, setting the foundation to nullify federal prohibition in practice.
A coalition of five Democrats introduced House Bill 8232 (H8232) on May 19. As introduced, the legislation would have allowed state-licensed representatives of the Narragansett Indian Tribe to produce, possess, distribute, and commercially trade industrial hemp. In a rapid series of events, the bill was amended in the House Committee of Health Education and Welfare to apply to everybody.
On June 17, the House passed the amended bill 71-0. The Senate concurred the next day by a 26-7 margin. H8232 will now head to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s desk for her signature. She will have six days after transmittal (excepting Sundays) to sign or veto the bill. If she doesn’t act, it will become law without her signature.
Under the proposed law, industrial hemp would be treated as an agricultural crop subject to regulation by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. The legislation reads in part:
“Hemp is an agricultural product which may be grown as a crop, produced, possessed, distributed, and commercially traded pursuant to the provisions of this chapter…The department shall adopt rules to provide for the implementation of this chapter, which shall include rules to require hemp to be tested during growth for THC levels and to require inspection of hemp during sowing, growing season, harvest, storage, and processing.”