The wide leaf of a young hemp plant.

Simon and India

Arizona’s Senate Committee on Commerce and Public Safety voted 6-1 to approve industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, distribution, and commerce by licensed growers and processors in the state, according to a Capitol Media Services report. The measure must be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee before moving to the full Senate for a vote.

The proposal defines hemp according to the 2014 Farm Bill – as a plant from the cannabis genus that contains less than .3 percent THC. Under the measure, the state Department of Agriculture would issue licenses valid for two years, setting up an Industrial Hemp Trust Fun to fund the implementation and regulation of the program. According to a proposed amendment to the bill, execution of the program would require three new full-time positions in the Department of Agriculture to the tune of $250,000 in fiscal year 2017-2018. The department would also require another $422,000 to set up testing infrastructure.

During his testimony to the committee, Sen. Sonny Borrelli, a Republican and the bill sponsor, said that the state has been “missing out on a multi-billion-dollar industry” due to the prohibition of industrial hemp production.

According to the report, the only opposition came from Arizona attorney Bob Lynch, who represents irrigation districts that would supply the water to farmers.

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