State Sen. Sonny Borrelli’s hemp bill OK’d by committee

January 19, 2019

A bill to extend Arizona hemp farmers’ growing season could soon bear fruit after receiving unanimous approval from the state Senate’s land, water and agricultural committee Thursday morning.

State Sen. Sonny Borrelli introduced SB 1003 in December, which would allow hemp farmers to begin planting their crops as early as June, rather than waiting until August, as advised under Arizona law.

Borrelli introduced similar legislation in the 2017 legislative session which was signed into law by Gov. Doug Ducey. That legislation allowed industrial hemp farmers to begin planting in August, a time frame rendered moot by the passage of the U.S. Senate’s Farm Bill last year, Borrelli said.

Hemp is a $500 million industry, Borrelli said, and extending the growing season for Arizona farmers could allow the Grand Canyon State to be a larger part of it. According to Borrelli, hemp farming has gained attention throughout the Southwest due to diminished water supplies – according to Borrelli, growing hemp requires about a third of the amount of water it would take to grow cotton in Arizona.

“(SB 1003) passed through the Senate Land Water and Agricultural Committee this morning,“ Borrelli said Thursday.

Before SB 1003 can be signed into law, however, the committee’s report and any prescribed recommendations must be read to the state Senate. If no amendments are recommended, Senate leadership can put the bill on a consent calendar, by which state senators agree not to debate the bill during the legislative session and advance directly to a vote. If it is not on the consent calendar, the bill will see discussion and possible changes in the Senate before a final vote will be decided.

After passage in the Senate, the bill will be subjected to review by the Arizona House of Representatives, then returned to the Senate before it can be presented to the governor for veto or passage.

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