Lawmakers Want Hemp Ban Lifted ; Move Would Mean More Work, Delays for DPS Crime Lab
Fischer, Howard, AZ Daily Star
PHOENIX -- Calling it good for agriculture, two Republican lawmakers from Lake Havasu City are pushing to allow farmers to grow hemp without violating state marijuana laws.
"I'm not a big proponent of marijuana," Sen. Kelli Ward told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. "I am a proponent of economic development and ways to help Arizona to thrive."
That means removing at least one legal hurdle that keeps Arizona farmers out of the hemp business, she said. SB 1122 would say the laws against marijuana do not apply if the concentration of THC, the psychoactive elements, is less than three-tenths of 1 percent.
Rep. Sonny Borrelli said the ban makes no sense.
He pointed out that while growing hemp is illegal, there's no prohibition on importing and possessing products made of hemp into this country. Borrelli illustrated that with a rope he bought at a grocery story that had been made in China.
"You'd have to smoke this whole bale here to get high," Borrelli told lawmakers. "By that time, you're going to die of smoke inhalation before you get even impaired or intoxicated."
But the legislation is running into opposition from prosecutors, and even the crime lab at the state Department of Public Safety because marijuana and its less-psychoactive cousin are virtually impossible to tell apart.
There is a long history of hemp production in this country. Much of the paper during Revolutionary days came from hemp.
"Our own Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper," Borrelli said.
That's only partly right. While some versions of the document are on hemp, the copy on display at the National Archives is on parchment.
Either way, Borrelli figures it's a product that can easily be grown in this country.
Katy Proctor, who represents the Department of Public Safety, warned lawmakers one complication of the change is the DPS crime lab, asked to test a seized product to see if it's marijuana, does a simple test. …