Group Seeks To Put Hemp Farming On Arizona Ballot In 2016

Published: Monday, December 22, 2014 - 7:58am

Arizona voters may get a chance to decide if farmers here can grow an industrial version of marijuana, something several other states now allow.

A group called Hemp Our World has filed the paperwork to put the issue on the ballot in 2016. Organizer Christian Carrasco says the goal is to provide a crop for farmers that can be used to produce everything from oils to fibers for paper and clothing,

“People are now starting to see that this is not about the marijuana. You can't smoke hemp. And it's grown in a totally different fashion,” Carrasco said.

The difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC content. That’s the psychoactive chemical that gets people high.

The measure would define hemp as having less than three tenths of 1 percent THC. Maricopa Attorney Bill Montgomery opposes the measure saying with just a few exceptions hemp remains illegal under federal law.

But, the idea has the backing of the agricultural community. Julie Murphree of the Arizona Farm Bureau said last month the group supported changes in both state and federal laws which treat hemp and marijuana the same way.

“If we can separate that from the federal Schedule 1 registration so that industrial hemp is separate, that would be a huge step forward for us,” Murphree said.

And the matter may not even need voter approval. A legislative proposal to make the change last year was unsuccessful, but the idea is expected to come up again when lawmakers return to the state Capitol next month.

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