New Bill Would Establish an Industrial Hemp Study Committee

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State Sen. Lynne Pancrazi, a Democrat from Yuma, has introduced a bill asking for the creation of an industrial hemp study committee to examine the economic opportunities associated with the industry and to review actions the federal government and other states regarding hemp.

The one-page bill, SB 1225, lists the people who should be a part of this study committee, including two members of the state Senate appointed by the Senate president, two members of the state House appointed by the speaker, the director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, and the dean of the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. There would also be representatives of a statewide farm association.

This committee would have to look into the benefits of establishing a hemp industry here in Arizona, and then present their results on or before Sept. 1, 2016.

One of the gubernatorial hopefuls, Americans Elect candidate John Lewis Mealer, used the hemp industry as one of the platforms to improve the state's economy should he had been elected. During his campaign last year, he reinforced his support for the "trillion-dollar" industry. Mealer actually owns an automobile company, where he hopes to incorporate car panels made from industrial hemp one day.

Also, industrial hemp research is mentioned in the Agriculture Act of 2014, or the Farm Bill. A section of the law authorizes university institutions or state departments, where hemp is legal, to grow hemp for research purposes. Hemp hasn't been grown in the U.S. since 1957, according to the advocacy group Vote Hemp.

Arizona lawmakers pushed for a bill last year that would have given hemp farming the green light here, but that didn't survive. It was voted down by the Senate Judiciary Committee February 2014.

This one will likely not survive either in our very conservative state Legislature. Although, it should not be blown off, since the hemp industry could bring good money here. You can create a lot of things from it, from oil to shoes.

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