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US CA County board supports hemp bill

  1. Heretic.Ape.
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica]http://www.californiaaggie.com/[/FONT]
    YOLO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS SUPPORTS HEMP BILL

    Bill Would Allow Hemp Farming In Yolo County

    The Yolo County Board of Supervisors agreed unanimously to support Assembly Bill 684 Tuesday.

    If passed, AB 684 would allow for the industrial farming of hemp in four California counties - Imperial, Kings, Mendocino and Yolo counties - for the next five years, in spite of federal law which classifies the plant as a controlled substance and prohibits hemp farming.

    Yolo County staff recommended the county support for the bill because hemp production can be beneficial to the county, said Petrea Marchand, manager of intergovernmental affairs for Yolo County.

    "Staff is recommending support because Yolo County agriculture may benefit sometime in the future from an availability of another crop," she said.

    While the county may benefit, Marchand also said the federal government still outlaws the possession of hemp seeds and that farming hemp is not financially viable because there are no nearby hemp processing plants.

    Several supervisors showed their support during the meeting.

    "I think we should support this and see what happens," said supervisor Helen Thompson. "Perhaps this is a niche area for some Yolo county farmers who are creative."

    Supervisor Mariko Yamada said the county staff made an effort to find farmers' opinions and most were in support.

    Supervisor Matt Rexroad also asked the opinion of the local police enforcement and said they had little opposition because this product is seen as distinct from marijuana.

    But despite the unanimous support, there were some concerns raised by the board.

    Rexroad said he was concerned about people's negative perceptions of hemp, and how that could affect the county's agriculture business. He said he heard Butte County declined taking part in this bill because they worried the county's agriculture industry would be hurt because of hemp's association with marijuana.

    Others, including bill sponsor and Representative Mark Leno ( D-San Francisco ), said production of industrial hemp will have financial and environmental benefits.

    "This is a $270 million industry that's growing at 10 percent a year," he said. "Industrial hemp can be used to make food, clothing, homes and fuel that are all biodegradable."

    While federal law still prohibits the production of industrial hemp, Leno said counties that are part of the pilot program will be protected by the law.

    Because hemp has less than .03 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ), compared to marijuana which has 3 to 10 percent, the law will require the Drug Enforcement Administration to routinely check hemp crops for THC content, according to the bill. Any hemp crops found in violation will be destroyed.

    Despite possible drawbacks, Leno said this will be beneficial to the state's agriculture.

    "I think it will be a great opportunity for California family farmers," he said.

    The bill passed the Assembly floor and is awaiting vote by the Senate.

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