Alaska House votes to legalize hemp farming

The Alaska House of Representatives has voted unanimously to legalize hemp farming in Alaska, a move that puts the 49th state on track to become the 35th in the country to legalize cultivation of the non-intoxicating form of cannabis.

Senate Bill 6, drafted by Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote. That procedure is expected to be a formality, as is its approval by Gov. Bill Walker. (The Senate approved an earlier version of the bill 20-0 last year.)

“It’s not going to solve our fiscal gap and economic woes, but for a number of individuals, it will create new opportunities,” Hughes said after the votes were tallied.

She said she had just hung up the phone with former state Sen. Johnny Ellis, the longtime Democrat from Anchorage, who had introduced a similar measure in his final term of office.

“He’s been watching it, so that was kind of cool,” she said, and Ellis offered his own thoughts by Twitter, saying that it offers “freedom to farm.”

In the House, the bill was carried by Rep. Harriet Drummond, D-Anchorage, who said “the commercial possibilities of hemp are numerous and versatile.”

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