The download on industrial hemp in Arizona; ‘good news for growers,’ says Omar Abdallah, Rose Law Group attorney handling hemp-related issues

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By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Group Reporter

The state of Arizona issued 359 industrial hemp licenses for a new production program that started in June and 84.6 percent of the hemp grown was compliant with state mandated THC levels.

That is according to a Year-End Report on the state’s industrial hemp program issued by the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

The state agency tested hemp across 3,898 acres across Arizona to see if it was compliant with THC levels. Hemp is industrial cannabis used for a wide variety of products. In Arizona’s regulated settings, hemp crops and strains can’t have THC levels above 0.03 percent. THC is the psychoactive agent in cannabis. Hemp crops with too high of THC levels can end up having to be destroyed.

The year-end numbers and test are encouraging to Omar Abdallah, an attorney with Rose Law Group in Scottsdale handling hemp regulations and laws.

“One of the biggest challenges we expected in Arizona’s first growing season for hemp is how hemp seed would react to our hot climate. Turns out some hemp varieties work drastically better than others. This is good news for new growers,” Abdallah said.

He expects more hemp crops to become THC compliant. The 2019 tests did show 98 percent of hemp crops in Maricopa County and 73.8 percent of crops in Pinal County were compliant.

“This data is really promising for the Arizona hemp industry.  Going forward, we can expect a new confidence to grow hemp thanks to at least four planted varieties that were 100 percent compliant with THC requirements,” Abdallah said.

He encouraged growers to try to mediate their crops THC levels, so they don’t have to be destroyed.

“Interestingly, only a small portion of non-compliant hemp was remediated.  Remediation is still a good option for growers that don’t want to destroy their non-compliant crop,” Abdallah said.

Abdallah also expects to see more non-compliant crops as growers breed seed specifically for Arizona’s climate and topography.

“I was actually expecting a lot more non-compliant hemp this first year.  As more seed companies breed hemp seed specifically for Arizona, growers will find more success in the coming years,” Abdallah said.