Sacramento – Senate Bill 1409, which would update current law to streamline the production of industrial hemp in California, has been passed by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Senator Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley), who introduced the bill, announced Wednesday.
SB 1409 would allow California farmers to grow and produce non-intoxicating hemp for commercial and industrial uses.
“This is an amazing opportunity for California,” Wilk said. “It makes sense for our economy, our farming community and our natural resources. California is the largest consumer of hemp materials in the nation. Bringing the industry to California will mean jobs and manufacturing. We have a market for it across our economic sectors, an appetite for it in our farming community and investors ready for the opportunity to support hemp operations that would employ a hungry workforce. It’s time we take advantage.”
In addition to the economic benefits, industrial hemp is a natural fit for California’s arid climate.
In the Antelope Valley, where alfalfa currently represents the No. 1 agricultural crop, farmers could save five acre-feet of water per acre when switching from alfalfa to hemp. With water conservation policies here to stay, that savings is important to the farming community as well as the 40 million thirsty people living in California.
Industrial hemp is an agricultural crop grown and processed throughout the world for thousands of consumer and food products, including alternatives to fossil fuel and wood products.
“At one point, California was well positioned for an industrial hemp industry when it enacted Senate Bill 566 in 2013 which conditionally approved an industrial hemp pilot program,” Wilk said.
“Unfortunately, Prop. 64, by and large, failed to differentiate this industrial commodity from its psychoactive counterpart, cannabis,” he said. “When Prop. 64 passed in 2016 much of the progress made under SB 566 and other efforts were undone.”
Senate Bill 1409 brings California’s hemp laws up to date by allowing the pilot program to proceed as intended and by updating the definition of industrial hemp to reflect the difference between it and cannabis.
Wilk added that the federal government has also initiated similar efforts to update industrial hemp laws by removing it from the federal controlled substances list.
The legislation in Congress, if successful, will complement Wilk’s legislation.
SB 1409 will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations committee.