Not all cannabis is the kind of smoke-able marijuana that a person thinks of when hearing the word. Hemp is also classified under the genus, Cannabis. Hemp contains minuscule amounts of the psychoactive cannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the constituent known for producing feelings of being “high.” The THC content is the main difference between the two.
Industrial hemp has been used for centuries to make rope, commercial and consumer textiles, building material, medicine, fuel, and much more. Hemp was deemed illegal to cultivate in much of the United States because of it’s closeness to the cannabis plant that contains higher quantities of THC. In recent years, some states have recognized the economical value that can come from hemp cultivation, and now 9 states have laws allowing for and promoting hemp as a cash crop.
At this time, Arizona does not permit farmers to cultivate hemp, but a the organization, known as Hemp Our World, is aiming to change that. The group is mobilizing now to collect the more than 150,000 signatures required to place a measure on the 2016 ballot. The signatures must be collected and submitted by July 2016.
The initiative organizer, Christian Carrasco, told the Arizona Daily Star that the inspiration for this came from the measures recently approved in Colorado and Kentucky. Between now election day 2016, the organization plans to share knowledge and educate voters in Arizona so that they are able to make informed decisions. They are worried that people may confuse a hemp amendment with a recreational marijuana measure, and vote against it out of confusion.
According to Arizona representative Sonny Borrelli, however, this type of legislation may pass when the legislature reconvenes in 2015. He pushed for legalizing hemp cultivation last year with no success. Next year may be different, however, because the Arizona Farm Bureau recently approved the development, production and distribution of industrial hemp in the state with the goal of developing an ideal strain to plant as a cash crop.
There are also reportedly recreational marijuana legalization efforts organizing a push for the 2016 ballot. The hemp initiative is beginning the process now to allow for plenty of time to collect signatures.
photo credit: New York Times