A bill has been introduced by Arizona State Senator Sonny Borrelli; SB 1337, to establish the framework for an industrial hemp industry in Arizona. SB 1337 sets up the process for the production, distribution and commerce of Industrial hemp in our state.
The global market for hemp products is an estimated $580 million in annual sales. The passing of SB 1337 would allow for Arizona to take part in this profitable and expanding market. The development and use of industrial hemp has the potential to bolster the Arizona economy and to allow for the creation of new jobs that could not have existed before.
Industrial Hemp can help increase Arizona’s agricultural vitality. While cotton is one the of the 5 “Cs” of Arizona, it is a thirsty crop that requires large quantities of water. Hemp can be used in products similar to those made from cotton, but grows using less water and less fertilizer. Compared to cotton, hemp grows faster and produces higher yields per acre, decreasing the environmental costs.
“With the Arizona Legislature’s focus on economic growth and development, now is the appropriate time to explore this burgeoning industry and to reap the potential profits it can bring,” said Senator Borrelli.
SB 1337 is designed so this newly created industry is under the authorization of the Arizona Department of Agriculture. The Department will be in charge of the licensing, production and management of industrial hemp. Before a grower or processor license can be authorized, an applicant must pass a criminal background check. Other rules and regulations are put in place, such as record keeping requirements and registering growing locations, in order for effective oversite and legal compliance within the industry.
Industrial Hemp has been use for thousands of years to make dozens of commercial products like paper, rope, canvas, and textiles.
Industrial Hemp was first unjustly banned after WW I. That ban was lifted, but then reinstated after WW II. However, Industrial Hemp has recently been rediscovered as a plant that has enormous environmental, economic, and commercial potential. What follows are some facts about Industrial Hemp that many people will find surprising:
The potential of Industrial Hemp for paper production is enormous. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, one acre of Industrial Hemp can produce 4 times more paper than one acre of trees. All types of paper products can be produced from Industrial Hemp including, newsprint, computer paper, stationary, cardboard, envelopes, concrete, toilet paper, even tampons.
Graphic shows the wide variety of products:
Saving trees and water
There is no tree or plant species on earth capable of producing as much paper per acre as Industrial Hemp. Industrial Hemp is number one. One interesting side note is paper produced from Industrial Hemp lasts longer than paper made from trees. Perhaps that explains why so many ancient manuscripts have survived for hundreds of years.
Paper production from Industrial Hemp would eliminate the need to chop down billions of trees. Millions of acres of forests and huge areas of wildlife habitat could be preserved.
Trees must grow for 20 to 50 years after planting before they can be harvested for commercial use. Within 4 months after it is planted, Industrial Hemp grows 10 to 20 feet tall and it is ready for harvesting. Industrial Hemp can be grown on most farmland throughout the U.S., where forests require large tracts of land available in few locations. Substituting Industrial Hemp for trees would save forests and wildlife habitats and would eliminate erosion of topsoil due to extensive logging. Reduction of topsoil erosion would also reduce pollution of lakes/rivers/streams.
Fewer caustic and toxic chemicals are used to make paper from Industrial Hemp than are used to make paper from trees resulting in less pesticide pollution.
Industrial Hemp can also be substituted for cotton to make textiles. Industrial Hemp fiber is 10 times stronger than cotton and can be used to make all types of clothing. Cotton grows only in warm climates like Arizona and requires enormous amounts of water.
Industrial Hemp requires little water and grows in all 50 states. Many stores in the U.S. sell Industrial Hemp¬ derived products such as clothing, paper, cheese, soap, ice cream, cosmetics, and Industrial Hemp oil.
Industrial Hemp naturally repels weed growth and has few insect enemies. With few insect enemies and no weed problems means Industrial Hemp requires no herbicides and little or no pesticides.
Cotton on the other hand requires enormous pesticide use, in fact 50% of all pesticides used in the U.S. are used on cotton. Substituting Industrial Hemp for cotton would drastically reduce pesticide usage.
Industrial Hemp produces twice as much fiber per acre as cotton. An area of land only 25 miles by 25 miles square (the size of a typical U.S. county) planted with Industrial Hemp can produce enough fiber in one year to make 100 MILLION pair of denim jeans. A wide variety of clothing made from 100% Industrial Hemp (pants, denim jeans, jackets, shoes, dresses, shorts, hats) is now available.
Building materials that substitute for wood can be made from Industrial Hemp. These wood-like building materials are stronger than wood and can be manufactured cheaper than wood from trees. Using Industrial Hemp¬ derived building materials would reduce building costs and save even more trees.
Industrial Hemp is not intoxicating
Industrial Hemp seeds are a source of nutritious high¬ protein oil that can be used for human and animal consumption. Industrial Hemp oil is NOT intoxicating. Extracting protein from Industrial Hemp is less expensive than extracting protein from soybeans. Industrial Hemp protein can be processed and flavored in any way soybean protein can. Industrial Hemp oil can also be used to make highly nutritious tofu, butter, cheese, salad oils, and other foods. Industrial Hemp oil can also be used to produce paint, varnish, ink, lubricating oils, and plastic substitutes. Because 50% of the weight of a mature Industrial Hemp plant is seeds, Industrial Hemp could become a significant source for these products.
Unlike virtually all Industrial Hemp substitutes, growing Industrial Hemp requires very little effort and very few resources. Most substitutes for Industrial Hemp (sisal, kenaf, sugar cane) grow in limited geographical areas and none have the paper/fiber potential of Industrial Hemp. Industrial Hemp can be grown in all 50 states.
Unlike many crops, Industrial Hemp puts little strain on the soil and requires only moderate amounts of fertilizer and in fact returns nutrients to the soil. Less fertilizer use results in less runoff into waterways and groundwater; therefore, less water pollution.
Industrial Hemp produces more biomass than any plant that can be grown in the U.S. This biomass can be converted to fuel in the form of clean-burning alcohol, or no¬-sulphur man-made coal. Industrial Hemp has more potential as a clean and renewable energy source than any crop on earth. It is estimated that if Industrial Hemp was widely grown in the U.S. for fuel/energy, it could supply conceivably supply the majority of the U.S. energy needs. Some even say it could supply all of the US energy needs.
Industrial Hemp is environmentally and economically superior
Industrial Hemp is excellent for making rope, lubricating oil, shoe material, and other materials was in such short supply during World War II that the U.S. government temporarily re¬-legalized Industrial Hemp so U.S. farmers could grow it for the war effort. Industrial Hemp helped us win World War II. Industrial Hemp was a common crop that was grown legally in the U.S. for commercial use until 1937.
Industrial Hemp was then banned again after the War because it was a competitive threat to the wood products industry and newly developed synthetic fibers that were patentable, and therefore more profitable. Corporations that profited from the demise of Industrial Hemp propagated a smear campaign against Industrial Hemp.
Industrial Hemp is legally grown for commercial use throughout much of Europe, India, China, Canada, Russia and Ukraine. If the U.S. and the States do not legalize Industrial Hemp for commercial use, a significant economic and environmental opportunity will be lost; the benefits will be reaped only by our worldwide economic competitors.
It makes no sense to ban growing a plant that has enormous economic and environmental potential, grows naturally by the millions, and is virtually impossible to exterminate.
It is difficult to conclude anything other than Industrial Hemp is an amazing crop that environmentally and economically is far superior to forests and cotton.