Gov. Ducey signs Borrelli’s hemp bill

February 22, 2019

Hemp farmers in Arizona can begin planting two months earlier than originally planned now that Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Sonny Borrelli of Lake Havasu City.

Ducey signed Senate Bill 1003 on Wednesday. Borrelli’s bill allows hemp farmers to begin planting crops as soon as early June, rather than waiting until August as allowed under a bill passed last year. The change was prompted by the passage of the U.S. Farm Bill, which legalized commercial production of hemp around the country. According to Forbes, U.S. Retail sales for hemp products reached $820 million in 2017, and economic forecasters expect hemp and CBD products will be a $1 billion industry by 2020.

Borrelli has pushed hemp farming in Arizona because he says it requires about a third the amount of water as other agriculture crops, such as cotton.

In related news, Borrelli said two marijuana bills he supported were recently defeated by Democrats. SB 1137, sponsored by Borrelli, got a thumbs-down from Senate Democrats. The bill would have required the Department of Agriculture to inspect and test marijuana crops intended for dispensaries. On Wednesday, Borrelli said Democrats voted against SB 1222, sponsored by State Sen. Paul Boyer (R-Phoenix). The bill would have allowed the Department of Health Services to inspect dispensaries for mold and bacteria during business hours.

“This is something that’s done every workday at restaurants and grocery stores across Arizona,” Borrelli said in a news release. “The problem is, this industry currently has near total impunity and immunity. These two bills would do nothing to restrict access for patients to obtain medical marijuana. They’re about making sure that marijuana is safe and free of dangerous chemicals. Senator Boyer has already made a motion for Senators to reconsider his bill. I hope opponents will do just that.”

Also on Wednesday, Ducey signed a bill by Lake Havasu City Rep. Leo Biasiucci intended to keep a school in La Paz County open for the rest of the school year. Biasiucci’s bill, House Bill 2116, was introduced Jan. 23 to help correct an error in Bouse Elementary School’s budget process, allowing the small school district to spend money it already has saved. According to La Paz County school officials, the school made a mistekae, budgeting $300,000 less than it should have. Biasiucci’s bill amends the school’s budget.