Arizona’a House Land, Agriculture and Rural Areas Committee has voted unanimously in favor of legislation that would legalize industrial hemp.
The legislation has already been approved by the state’s full Senate, and now needs to be passed by the House of Representatives in order to be sent to Governor Doug Ducey for consideration. Ducey vetoed a similar bill last year, though advocates are hoping that backlash from the move will lead him to consider at least allowing it to become law without his signature.
“It uses nine times less water than cotton,” says Senator Sonny Borrelli (R), the bill’s primary sponsor. “This will help our cotton growers to be able to rotate in another crop. They only get one planting a year of cotton, this can be planted once a year and at least four cuttings”.
Borrelli wants to make clear that despite what those who are opposed to the measure have done to connect the two, hemp is not the same as marijuana.
“This is rope. It’s not dope. You can smoke a whole bale of this stuff. You are not going to get high on it,” says Borrelli.
According to congressional research, the hemp market consists of over 25,000 various products. The United States imports roughly half a billion dollars in hemp each year from other countries (primarily China and Canada), yet retains the illegality of its cultivation among its own farmers. Despite federal law, 34 states have passed some type of policy allowing hemp to be cultivated at the state level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.