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A field of industrial hemp. | Photo: Evelyn Simak/WMC 2.0
A field of industrial hemp. | Photo: Evelyn Simak/WMC 2.0.

 

Sacramento – California Governor Jerry Brown has signed Senate Bill 1409 into law, updating current law to allow the state’s farmers to grow and produce non-intoxicating hemp for commercial and industrial uses.

“This is a big win for our local farmers!” said Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, author of the bill.

“Industrial hemp uses less water than other crops and needs little to no pesticides,” Wilk said. “It is used in over 25,000 different products, and manufacturers that use hemp in their products have discussed locating to the Antelope Valley. The passage of SB 1409 will bring mortgage-paying jobs to our district.”

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 that is grown and processed throughout the world for thousands of consumer and food products, including alternatives to fossil fuel and wood products.

California was well positioned for an industrial hemp industry in 2013 when it enacted Senate Bill 566, which conditionally approved an industrial hemp pilot program. But Proposition 64, which passed in 2016 and legalized recreational marijuana, by and large failed to differentiate the industrial commodity from its psychoactive counterpart, cannabis. So when Prop. 64 passed 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.

The federal government also has initiated similar efforts to update industrial hemp laws by removing the product from the federal controlled substances list. The legislation in Congress, if successful, will complement Wilk’s legislation.

“California can now compete with thirty other nations and nineteen states in the growth of industrial hemp,” Wilk said. “This will be a boon for California’s economy and local farmers.”

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1 Comment

  1. Juana Dabney says:

    I agree with the approval of the hemp growing laws, but what happens to the alfalfa. Will the prices of alfalfa feed for livestock rise because of the farmers switching crops? How can the hemp crops be done and save the alfalfa crops also?

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