Is Hemp Legalization Coming at the Perfect Time for Arizona Farmers?
For many farmers, commodity prices have not kept up with increasing costs whether that be Arizona’s increasing minimum wage, capitalization for efficient equipment or issues with water. However, many of those who have profited from the marijuana industry or have seen the profit from the marijuana industry see the next rush as the legalization of industrial hemp.
Beginning in August of 2019, farmers in Arizona, with prior approval from the Arizona Department of Agriculture, will be able to grow industrial hemp. A 2015 federal law removed hemp from the controlled substances list so long as its THC content did not exceed 0.3 percent. This allowed states to start regulating the growth of industrial hemp where it was previously banned. The Industrial Hemp Program Rules Committee meets regularly to discuss and create Arizona regulations.
At least 35 states have passed laws regulating but allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp. Arizona weather conditions allow for up to four cuttings of hemp per year placing Arizona at the forefront of production. Additionally, with hemp requiring 90 percent less water than some traditional row crops (e.g., cotton) this comes at the perfect time as the Central Arizona Project looks to reduce water to Pinal County farmers. The combination of low water crops and several non-farmers looking to invest in them may provide farmers much needed relief.