Friday, June 17, 2011

Senate Bill 676 Will Allow Kern County Farmers to Grow Industrial Hemp on their Land

>Industrial Hemp has made its way back on the agenda in Sacramento with SB 676 proposed by Mark Leno the San Francisco/Marin County State Senator. It is the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011. Similar bills were vetoed by previous Governor Schwartzenegger. The bill establishes a five county pilot project for growing Industrial Hemp. The Counties which will be allowed to grow hemp if this bill passes are Imperial, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin and Yolo Counties.

Industrial Hemp has a variety of uses from clothing, foods (breads, energy bars, etc.), health, beauty products, and paper products. Tens of thousands of products use hemp. The bill states that only these counties can grow industrial hemp with 5 acres minimum, and with no upper acreage limit. It must be for agricultural use or research. Farmers must test the hemp for THC content and destroy crops with an excessive THC count. Industrial Hemp looks like the narcotic marijuana plant, but it has very low levels of THC. Thus its used only for industrial purposes. There are other regulations in order to not disguise Hemp with the Marijuana version such as no clandestine or backyard growing will be allowed.

Federal Law enforced by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) prohibited the growing and cultivation of Industrial Hemp, as the DEA regarded Industrial Hemp as a controlled substance like Marijuana. The DEA’s claim was recently over-ruled by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 as the court stipulated that the DEA has no authority over the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. Farmers were allowed to grow hemp but the extra security, fencing, and DEA regulation were cost prohibited.

Here are some positive facts regarding hemp versus tree paper. Hemp paper doesn’t require toxic bleaching chemicals. It can be whitened with hydrogen peroxide, which doesn’t poison waterways as chloride and bleach do with the chemicals used in making wood pulp paper. Hemp paper can be recycled 7 to 8 times, compared with only 3 times for wood pulp paper. An acre of hemp produces as much paper as four acres of trees annually. It requires little or no pesticides or herbicides and produces two to four times more fiber than an acre of timber. It grows rapidly and can be harvested every 90 days and it is an ideal rotational crop. It also continues with the going green viewpoint of California as many trees will be saved. This “new” product will create jobs for Antelope Valley.

This may be a great opportunity for Kern County land owners as this would be a beginning of a need for available land. If this project succeeds then Antelope Valley may also be allowed to grow hemp as most of the available land in agricultural land, and it would be an ideal location. This “new” product will also create jobs for Antelope Valley.

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