Arizona Legalizes Industrial Hemp Cultivation

Gov. Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1098 on Monday, which will fund the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s (AZDA) agricultural pilot program, allowing universities and other license holders to cultivate industrial hemp.

“This bill opens Arizona to the possibility of a new agricultural product,” Gov. Ducey said in a press release. “I’m glad to sign a bill that could have a positive economic impact for the state.”

Cultivators, harvesters, transporters and processors can now obtain a license from the state’s agricultural department. Those who violate the licensing requirements will be subject to penalties.

Industrial hemp, of course, is devoid of active levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is defined as having less than 0.3 percent of THC. Most of the bill’s critics claimed that enforcement won’t be able to tell the difference between hemp and cannabis.

The AZDA will have the say-so over who is authorized to participate in the seed program. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, the department is also receiving half a million per year to hire inspectors to police the new hemp industry.

Here’s a short recap of how hemp laws have played out in Arizona. In 2001, both legislative bodies in Arizona approved a bill to allow universities to research hemp, but that was vetoed by then-Gov. Jane Hull. More legislation failed in 2002, until the 2014 Farm Bill opened the door to hemp cultivation once again.

Notably in Arizona, the state’s hot climate could allow some farmers to get four cuttings per year out of some gardens. Most of the plants, however, are expected to be grown in climate-controlled greenhouses.

The news of the bill’s passage makes Arizona the 35th state to allow some level of industrial hemp cultivation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hemp can be used as a food source, clothing material, paper or as a fuel source.

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