On a sprawling farm in Maricopa, his family’s land has been cultivated by Kelly Anderson for decades.
Ornamental plants are grown by him, dehydrated foliage and wheat which are sold in craft shops. Another possibly more profitable crop: industrial hemp, is being eyed by farmers like Anderson, although demand for the decorative plants is high.
An assortment of the cannabis plant, industrial hemp is used to make rope, paper, cosmetics, food and textiles. It features low levels of marijuana’s main psychoactive substance, but doesn’t create a high. Until lately, it couldn’t be lawfully grown anywhere in the U.S. and was imported from Canada, China, Europe, Russia and elsewhere.
“It uses less water than cotton, it’s a very heat-tolerant plant and we need a good rotation-kind crop to help the soil,” Anderson said. “Instead of growing cotton after cotton after cotton, or hay after hay after hay, you could rotate this. This could be used to help the ag economy and we’re always trying to expand our production base”
Two state lawmakers are looking into to legalizing hemp cultivation in Arizona.
The procedure to produce, distribute and sell hemp in Arizona would be set up by Senate Bill 1337 through a program managed by the state agriculture department. Processors and growers would be asked to pass criminal background checks and would need to maintain comprehensive records about growing locations. Harvests could possibly be inspected and tested by agriculture officials, and in the event the plants were discovered to have more than 0.3 percent of THC on a dry-weight basis, the crop can be destroyed and farmers can be prohibited from future hemp growing.