According to the Capital Press website, House and Senate lawmakers in the state of Washington approved Senate Bill 6206 establishing regulations governing industrial hemp production. The House approved the bill 97-0. The Senate passed the measure 48-1 three weeks ago and it awaits the signature of Governor Jay Inslee.

The bill authorizes the Washington state Department of Agriculture to oversee research carried out by licensed hemp farmers. Although the state will not subsidize growers or buy hemp, it will supervise the program, license growers, and perform background checks, among other regulations. Plantings will likely not begin until 2017 because the state needs to establish policies on licensing fees, grower qualifications, inspection requirements and how to prevent cross-pollination with marijuana plants.

The measure also allows Washington State University to study the feasibility of hemp production in the state and gauge market demand and report findings to the Legislature. Industrial hemp is defined differently than marijuana in the bill, and not meant to be used as a drug. Hemp is used to make biofuel, clothes, food and beauty products.

A copy of the bill is available here.