A house of hemp is under construction in Bellingham. Dubbed the “Highland Hemp House,” it is becoming a big attraction and staging ground for hemp activists supporting hemp legalization. Hemp cultivation is only legal for agricultural research projects in Washington State at this time.
The Industrial Hemp Research Pilot was approved in the state in 2016, according to King 5 News. Concern regarding hemp would be pollinated by higher-THC marijuana plants that the law prohibits a hemp farm within 4-miles of a recreational marijuana cultivation location. Hemp may not be grown for human use in Washington – yet.
Owner of the home, Pam Bosch, said, “I needed to renovate my house and I’m concerned about the environment and healthy living. About five years ago, I started to investigate, and I learned about ‘hempcrete.’ It’s insulating, it moderates humidity, it’s renewable, it’s recyclable, it’s regenerative.”
Bosch also said, “I view this as my legacy project and my gift to my grandchildren and to all of the children of the future.”
Debbie VanderVeen said, “I went to a farm in the Netherlands and I saw these bales wrapped up for shipment ready to be shipped over to Bellingham to the Hemp House. My farm is a crop farm. I would like to grow hemp, like they’re doing in the rest of the United States and the rest of the world actually. And we’re not allowed to do that here. There’s too many regulations, there’s too many stipulations, there’s too many fees, there’s too many fines.”
VanderVeen is one of many advocating for fewer restrictions on industrial hemp.
Representative Vincent Buys supports full industrial hemp legalization. He said, “I look at it from the agriculture standpoint. I’ve been working at the state level to make sure we can row hemp here in Washington State. I want our farmers to be able to have a product to grow.”
City Councilmember Pinky Vargas said, “I think hemp is totally bi-partisan. It is an agricultural product and something we should focus on. It’s sustainable, it’s good for the earth.”
Buys answered, when asked what the Legislature needs to do to legalize industrial hemp, that, “I think one of the biggest things is one of the agencies have been doing through the rulemaking process. At the federal level, I think we’ll see some legalization coming down that will really untie our hands at the local and state level.”
Vargas said, “We’ve been importing hemp from Canada for years and years, and that is economic money that we have been missing out on.”
The cost of hemp and hemp products in Washington is a bit higher because it all has to be imported. Advocates and lawmakers are hoping that will change in the near future. Only seven hemp cultivation licenses have been issued in the state, but none are actually in-use.