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Arizona governor signs hemp farming bill


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On Monday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation that authorizes Arizona farmers to grow hemp. Supporters say producing hemp would give Arizona farmers new options to make money off of a plant some believe would grow well in the desert environment.

“This bill opens Arizona to the possibility of a new agricultural product,” the governor said in a prepared statement, mentioning the legislation “could have a positive economic impact for the state.”

The new law will take effect next summer. In order to differentiate between hemp and its high-inducing relative, cannabis, the law includes a provision which categorizes hemp as containing no more than 0.3 percent THC.

 

“Expecting to get high on hemp is like expecting to get drunk on a case of O’Doul’s,” Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, said during debate on his legislation. “It’s a waste of time.”

Only those who have permission from the state Department of Agriculture will be allowed to grow hemp under the new law. The department will inspect facilities and prohibit the use of unauthorized hemp seeds. In addition, the department will be receiving $500,000 annually to hire inspectors and policy the new industry.

 

Previous measures on hemp have been introduced in Arizona in the early 2000s but faltered or had been vetoed.

The difference now? The 2014 federal Farm Bill.

This farm bill specifically allows universities and states to cultivate industrial hemp for research if authorized by state law. Also, a 2015 federal law removed hemp from the list of controlled substances if the THC content did not exceed 0.3 percent.

Borelli stated hemp farming is a natural fit for Arizona, and farmers may be able to get four harvests per year.

“It’s very economical,” he said, mentioning hemp uses 90 percent less water than cotton.

 

 

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