The Louisiana House already has approved legislation that would legalize the cultivation and processing of hemp for industrial purposes.

But on Thursday representatives refused to advance a bill that would a 3% tax of the retail sales price of the hemp product. The money was to help pay for early education programs.

At 68-21, the vote was two shy of the two-thirds needed to advance House Bill 560.

The measure could be taken up again before the session adjourns on June 6. Fifteen House members were not in the chamber when the vote was called.

“Anything that’s raised from this would go there for our kids,” said Rep. Neil Abramson, the New Orleans Democrat who sponsored this and other measures aimed at raising funding for early childhood programs. Other states charge about 14 percent, he said.

Any therapeutic or pharmaceutical use of hemp would not be taxed under the legislation.

As a member of the cannabis plant family, hemp is a relative of marijuana but contains only traces of the THC chemical compound that causes users to get high. While hemp-based products that contain no THC — like clothing and twine, protein powder, moisturizers and essential oils — are legal, the plant cannot be legally grown in this state.

House Bill 491 by Gonzales Republican Rep. Clay Schexnayder would legalize growing and processing of industrial hemp in Louisiana for the first time since 1938. Hemp production would help Louisiana’s struggling farmers and create new jobs, he said.

In the Farm Bill of 2018, Congress allowed the production of hemp that contains no more than 0.3% THC. More than 40 states have legalized hemp production.

HB491 cleared the House on a May 7 vote of 101-1. The measure is awaiting a hearing in Senate committee.

Voting in favor of taxing hemp, should its production become legal (68): Speaker Barras and Reps. Abraham, Abramson, Adams, Anders, Armes, Bacala, Bagneris, Berthelot, Billiot, Bishop, Bouie, Bourriaque, Brass, T. Brown, Carmody, Carpenter, G. Carter, S. Carter, Chaney, Cox, DeVillier, Duplessis, Dwight, Falconer, Foil, Franklin, Gaines, Gisclair, Glover, Guinn, J. Harris, Hilferty, Hill, Hoffmann, Howard, Ivey, Jackson, James, Jefferson, Jenkins, R. Johnson, Jones, Jordan, T. Landry, LeBas, Leger, Leopold, Lyons, Marcelle, Marino, McFarland, D. Miller, G. Miller, Moore, Moss, Muscarello, Norton, Pierre, Richard, Schexnayder, Smith, Stagni, Stokes, Talbot, Thomas, White and Zeringue.

Voting against HB560 (22): Reps Bagley, Connick, Coussan, Crews, DuBuisson, Edmonds, Garofalo, L. Harris, Hodges, Horton, M. Johnson, N. Landry, Mack, McMahen, Miguez, Jay Morris, Pearson, Pope, Pugh, Seabaugh, Simon, and Turner.

Not Voting (15): Reps Amedee, C. Brown, R. Carter, Davis, Emerson, Henry, Hollis, Huval, LaCombe, Larvadain, Magee, Jim Morris, Pylant, Stefanski and Wright.


Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.