A Republican legislator's bill to allow widespread production and processing of hemp for rope and other products was passed by the legislature. Gov. Inslee is expected to sign off on the measure, giving it a green light.

Senator Doug Ericksen from Ferndale -- one of the more powerful legislators in Olympia -- said there's no reason the state could not develop a strong and vibrant industry producing the many products that come from hemp.

There is a lot of misinformation between hemp and its close relative,marijuana. Both contain THC, but the levels of the active drug in hemp are so low it basically cannot produce the same effects as marijuana. And, industrial processes used to make rope and other products remove whatever THC is present, making it "drug-free."

Erickson's bill would create a structure for the industrial growth and production (and oversight) of hemp in the state.

Hemp was once a widely-grown, flourishing crop in the U.S. but then vanished when the federal government placed it on the same list as marijuana when the U.S. passed the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937. Hemp has now been removed from that list, following the legalization of marijuana in a growing number of states.

Ericksen says even just rope and related products produced from hemp could create a number of new lucrative industries, helping the state's economy. It's also used in textiles (clothing) and even some forms of plastics.

Federal law does require state regulation before it can be legally grown in a state. For more information about this story, click on the button below.