Senate Bill 1337 (SB 1337) seeks to legalize the cultivation, distribution and sale of industrial hemp. The state’s agricultural department would oversee the industry, if the proposed bill passes. Industrial hemp is non-psychoactive and can be used for manufacturing cosmetics, food, textiles, paper, rope and more.
Those interested in participating in the industrial hemp program would be required to pass criminal background checks, according to AZ Central. Detailed records, including grow location records, would also be required.
Kelly Anderson is interested in cultivating industrial hemp. She said, “It uses less water than cotton, it’s a very heat-tolerant plant … and we need a good rotation-type crop to help the soil. Instead of growing cotton after cotton after cotton or hay after hay after hay, you could rotate this in. This could be used to help the ag economy and we’re always trying to expand our production base.”
SB 1337 would require all hemp plants to undergo testing to ensure that less than 0.3-percent THC is present in the plant. Plants containing over this amount would have to be destroyed and may cause a farmer to be banned from further industrial hemp cultivation.
Senator Sonny Borrelli said, “This is about rope, not dope.”
Borrelli purchased hemp items at a local grocer, including rope and hemp seeds. Other products displayed in Borrelli’s include lotion and soap.
Borrelli also said, “Why are we not doing this? This is another product that our farmers could use, make money on and stimulate the economy. We’re missing out on a multibillion-dollar industry.”
Vote Hemp speculates that the current value of the U.S. hemp product market is $600 million. As many as 30 other states across the nation have industrial hemp legislation.
Senator Lisa Otondo said, “We could have processing plants for seeds, for textiles, processing plants to extract the oils. We are really in a great position to get in on the ground floor.”
The stigma surrounding marijuana may have some skeptical, however, as mentioned above, industrial hemp produces no “high”. SB 1337 has nothing to do with either recreational or medical marijuana.
Paco Ollerton, a cotton farmer, said, “I think there’s fear in the public that it is very similar to cannabis. From a grower’s standpoint, I think my concern is that we just don’t know enough about it.”