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Senate Bill 1337 To Legalize The Growing Of Industrial Hemp In Arizona

The Arizona Senate will vote on Senate Bill 1337 on Wednesday.

senate bill 1337

The bill would allow farmers with special licenses to cultivate hemp.

Over the last decade, the hemp industry has really taken off, raking in $600 million a year.

Some of the sponsors of the bill include Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R- Lake Havasu), who says hemp crops could bring revenue and jobs to the state.

“This is another crop we can rotate in and help replenish the soil, and [it] uses nine times less water than cotton,” Borrelli said.

The bill was approved by the House and now heads back to the Senate for a final vote.

“Hemp has the opportunity to be a valuable crop with various uses and less water,” Executive Director Chris Udall said. “We are still concerned about some legalities, which is why we are neutral.”

Sen. Sonny Borrelli has sponsored a bill to establish the framework for an industrial hemp industry in Arizona.

If passed, Senate Bill 1337 would legalize the cultivation, distribution, and sale of industrial hemp.

Borrelli praised the benefits of hemp production as an economic driver, saying it would create jobs and potentially bring Arizona into a growing industry. He added that hemp also could prove a big boost for agriculture in the water-sensitive state because it requires less water than cotton to grow.

Although he sees the commercial benefits of hemp, Farnsworth said it could pose a challenge for law enforcement officers to distinguish between a small hemp plant and a small marijuana plant.

“Enforcement of our marijuana laws would be more difficult if we have a lot of hemp growing,” he said.

Farnsworth also expressed concern that hemp may be a backdoor approach to legalizing marijuana. This also impacted hemp because it possesses the cannabinoid Tetrahydrocannabinol – commonly referred to as THC, the part of the plant that produces a high.

Tthe level of THC in hemp is very low compared to marijuana. For example, the maximum THC content of legal industrial hemp in most states is about 0.3 percent, whereas NBC News reported the average THC content in Colorado’s legal bud to be 18.7 percent.

A provision in the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill distinguished the two and authorized colleges, universities and pilot programs to begin researching industrial hemp.

But while 20 of those states have passed laws allowing research and pilot programs, only 16 have legalized industrial hemp production for commercial purposes, according to a state Senate fact sheet.

According to the association, market research firm SPINS also found that in 2015, hemp product sales in two of the largest segments of the market – hemp foods and body care – grew by 11 percent for conventional retailers and 9 percent for natural products retailers.

Companies use hemp to make food products, body care, textiles, construction materials, clothing, rope and plastic and composite car parts.

In 2015, the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. was estimated at more than $573 million, according to the Hemp Industries Association, a nonprofit trade association.

Besides food and body care, companies use hemp to make textiles, construction materials, clothing, rope and plastic and composite car parts.

If signed into law, the bill would set guidelines for the hemp industry in Arizona.

The Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council registered its opposition to the bill at the Legislature.

The Agribusiness and Water Council of Arizona signed on as neutral.