A New Dawn For Industrial Hemp In Arizona

Industrial hemp in Arizona
Image via Arizona Department of Agriculture

June 1 was a big day for industrial hemp in Arizona, marking the starting date for when cultivation, harvest, transporting and processing of the crop could commence.

On May 14, 2018 Senate Bill 1098 was signed into law by Governor Ducey, authorising the Arizona Department of Agriculture to license eligible applicants to grow and process industrial hemp starting on June 1 this year.

However, there will still be a bit of a wait – applications began being accepted on May 31, and Arizona’s Department of Agriculture (AZDA) will first need to review those. AZDA says application review may take anywhere from a few days up to fourteen business days, depending on its workload and completeness of the application received.

Five types of licenses are available – grower, harvester, transporter, processor, and nursery – and licences for multiple categories can be sought. There will be no limitation on the number of licenses issued or a size requirement in order to be licensed.

As well as food and fibre markets, Arizona will also permit the extraction of cannabidiol (CBD), but it’s pointed out the Department’s program only covers up to the processing phase.

“If there are food handling laws, laws and regulations under the oversight of the Food and Drug Administration, or other laws related to industrial hemp of another agency, then those issues are out of the Department’s scope of regulatory oversight,” AZDA states.

While Arizona is a rather dry state, it does have some advantages for hemp as farmers will be able to grow the crop during times of the year where much of the rest of the country is frozen over.

The date for the program’s commencement was brought forward, thanks to legislation introduced by Senator¬† Sonny Borrelli that was signed into law by Governor Ducey in February. It moved the start date from August to May 31, meaning farmers can hopefully get crops into the ground before it gets too hot.

While hemp only needs a fraction of the water of cotton,¬† it apparently isn’t much less than that required by corn. Other factors will influence its thirst, so Arizona’s first hemp season will be quite an experiment. Let’s hope fortune favours the brave.

More on Arizona’s industrial hemp program can be found here.