Arizona may soon become one of the few states in the U.S. to legally produce industrial hemp. SB 1337 passed in the Arizona House this week. The Arizona Department of Agriculture would be responsible for approving industrial hemp cultivation licenses. Industrial hemp is part of the cannabis genus of plants, but unlike cannabis plants that grow marijuana flowers (which generally contain about 8%-28% THC, the psychoactive substance that provides a “high”), industrial hemp plants are non-psychoactive (containing less than 0.3-percent THC) and used often used in textiles, food and cosmetic products.
Senator Sonny Borrelli, the sponsor of SB 1337, explained that someone smoking hemp would be wasting their time, Arizona Daily Independent reports. Borrelli says allowing farmers to cultivate will be a good cash crop. Hemp is useful in several applications including fibers and oils.
Borrelli said, “Once again, we have another regulatory agency telling us what we can grow.”
Representative Brenda Barton requested an amendment to the bill. She requested that the bill state that cultivation licenses can’t be issued until hemp production is federally legalized. The 2014 Farm Bill (federal law), allows hemp cultivation when authorized by state departments of agriculture and/or universities in specific circumstances. Research purposes being one of those circumstances.
Sixteen states have legalized industrial hemp production. Twenty additional states are allowing research and pilot programs regarding industrial hemp. The National Conference of State Legislatures says some states are compliant with federal laws where research is concerned. Some compliance laws are “conditional on changes in federal laws.”
Borrelli’s bill gained support from the Pima County Attorney’s Office after an accepted amount of testing and regulatory requirements were put in place. The safeguards are to ensure that marijuana plants aren’t grown in the fields instead of hemp plants.
The bill has one more stop with the Senate for approval on the amendment before it will head to Governor Ducey’s office for his signature.