• Travis Chaudoir

Tribes considering a hemp production ordinance

Originally Posted in The Parker Pioneer by John Gutekunst on Feb 25, 2020

The Colorado River Indian Tribes are looking at getting into the growing hemp business in Arizona and the nation. They are considering adopting an ordinance regarding the production of industrial hemp on the CRIT Reservation. A public hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the Tribal Council Chambers, which are located in the Tribal office complex at the corner of Mohave Road and Second Avenue (Agency Road).

According to the announcement of the hearing from the Tribes, the ordinance will serve the following purposes:

-          To promote the production of hemp on Tribal land and the development of new commercial markets for Tribal enterprises through the sale of hemp products.

-          To establish a regulatory framework for Tribal hemp production which maximizes opportunities for the growth of the hemp industry on Tribal land consistent with Tribal and Federal law.

-          To enable the Tribes, its licensees, and affiliated institutions of higher education, to conduct research regarding the production of hemp on Tribal lands.

-          To ensure that hemp production on Tribal lands causes minimal impacts to the environment, human health and safety, and is consistent with Tribal laws and customs.

Hemp was used for fabrics, paper and many other products for hundreds of years prior to the 20th Century. It is a cannabis plant similar to marijuana, but it doesn’t contain the levels of THC that marijuana does. This is the chemical that gives marijuana its “high.”

Hemp fabrics were known to be more durable than cotton or other fibers. Many ship sails were made from hemp. The word “canvas” is derived from “cannabis.”

Due to political pressure and its relationship and resemblance to marijuana, American hemp producers were put out of business in 1937 by the Marihuana Tax Act. In 1971, hemp and marijuana were listed as Level 1 Controlled Substances, like cocaine and heroin.

Growing hemp was illegal.

Regulated production of industrial hemp was made legal with the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which is often called the 2018 Farm Bill. Since then, production and processing of hemp is seen as a major growth industry for the future.

Hemp uses a lot less water and pesticides than cotton, and some are promoting it as a major new crop for Arizona. These include Gov. Doug Ducey and State Dist. 5 Sen. Sonny Borrelli.

In December, plans were announced for a major hemp processing facility to be built in Parker South. This $25 million project will be built by the Calyxar Group, which is headed by John Knight.

One of the products of the legalization of hemp is the growth of an extract, CBD. This extract has been touted for its health and pain-killing benefits, and many users have praised it. Medical experts caution that studies are needed to determine what CBD can and can’t do, as well as its possible side-effects.

The CRIT hemp ordinance announcement states the ordinance will be in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill and the Interim Final Rule issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the establishment of a domestic hemp production program.

The Tribes are accepting public comments on this proposed ordinance. Written comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25. They should be sent to this address:  Colorado River Indian Tribes, Office of the Attorney General, 26600 Mohave Road, Parker, Ariz. 85344.

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