After a recent bill was passed by Congress, the legality and production of hemp could soon have an accelerated timeline in Arizona.
On Tuesday, an $867 million farm bill was passed that legalizes hemp and removed it from the list of Schedule 1 drugs in the United States.
Arizona farmers would be able to begin growing hemp before the current August 2019 expected start date if President Donald Trump signs the bill into law.
Signed into law in May by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Senate Bill 1098 required a delayed production start date and a provisional schedule for hemp due to its Schedule 1 status.
“We won’t have to have that regulatory structure quite the same as before,” said Chelsea McGuire, director of government relations at the Arizona Farm Bureau. “It’s going to facilitate that process in a more streamlined and seamless fashion.”
When Senate Bill 1098 was signed into law, the Arizona Department of Agriculture had certain provisions that had to be met to remain within federal law.
The federal government defines a Schedule 1 drug as one with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
An industrial licensing program and an application and review process for potential growers were also included.
In order to ensure enough time to meet the regulatory guidelines, the start date was set as August 2019 by the state.
“Farmers might have hemp in the ground earlier than anticipated,” McGuire said. “A lot of those demands will be easier to meet because of the farm bill.”
The demand and purpose for hemp in the state is centered on its ability to be grown in Arizona’s drought-prone climate.
Clothes, shoes and soap are among the products that can be made from hemp.
“Farmers in Arizona are looking for ways to be innovative because of the climate,” McGuire said. “Hemp is an extremely versatile crop. There’s a market for it.”