Industrial Hemp Farming Bill Passes Assembly

Legislation that would allow the cultivation of industrial hemp in the Central Valley counties of Kern, Kings and San Joaquin plus Imperial County in Southern California was approved by the Assembly Wednesday on a 46-19 vote.

Senate Bill 676, authored by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, allows California farmers to grow industrial hemp for the legal sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers.

“Hundreds of consumer products containing hemp are made in California, but the manufacturers of these goods are forced to import hemp seed, oil and fiber from growers in Canada, Europe and China,” says Mr. Leno. “Family farmers are missing out on a golden opportunity to grow hemp, which can help expand their businesses, create jobs and stimulate the economy.”

Mr. Leno says hemp requires little to no pesticides and herbicides, can be grown as a rotational crop, and grows quickly with less water.

“The requirements for crops to be a minimum of five acres with identifiable signage and requirements for lab analysis reports indicating the THC content in the crops will assist law enforcement in clearly distinguishing the crop from marijuana,” says Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood.

THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical found in marijuana, a plant related to industrial hemp.

Hemp has a “deep history” in the U.S., Mr. Leno says. The Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria crossed the Atlantic with sails made of hemp, and both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew hemp, which was legal tender until the early 1800s, he says.

Today, industrial hemp is used to manufacture a vast array of foods, clothing, personal care products and building materials. The nation’s hemp market is currently valued at $400 million annually, and more than 55 percent of the U.S. hemp product companies are based in California, he says.

SB 676 now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote before heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

– Article originally from Central Valley Business Times.