Image of industrial hemp being harvested
 
CARSON CITY, NV — Lawmakers in Nevada have unanimously passed a bill to authorize hemp cultivation, sending the bill to Republican Governor Brian Sandoval for final approval.
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Sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas), Senate Bill 305 was given final approval by the Assembly in a 41-0 vote on Friday.  The measure was approved 19-0 by the Senate in April.
 
The bill will allow colleges, universities, and the state Department of Agriculture to cultivation industrial hemp for research purposes under an agricultural pilot program, as recently authorized by the federal government.  Hemp cultivation programs would need to be registered and  certified by the Department of Agriculture.
 
The bill defines industrial hemp as cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) on a dry weight basis.
 
Once signed by Gov. Sandoval, the State Board of Agriculture can begin adopting regulations regarding the licencing and oversight of hemp cultivation.  Hemp cultivation can begin as early as January 2016, once the regulations are in place.
 
Hemp products are already legal in the United States, but only if the hemp is imported from the more than 30 countries that legally grow it.   Last year, members of Congress relaxed some federal restrictions on hemp cultivation by approving language in the omnibus federal Farm Bill that explicitly authorizes states to sponsor hemp research and pilot programs, such as Nevada’s proposal, absent federal reclassification of the plant.
 
Over 20 states have adopted similar hemp laws.
 
In 2014 U.S. consumers purchased more than $640 million worth of hemp products, representing market growth of 3% since 2014.
 
Hemp is a durable natural fiber, a nutritious food product for humans and pets, a superior building material, and has thousands of other known uses. A hemp crop needs half the water alfalfa uses, is a great rotation crop to use after legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil and it can be grown without heavy use of pesticides.
 
Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing.  The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop on a large scale, according to the Congressional Resource Service.
 
Over thirty countries produce industrial hemp, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
 
The majority of hemp sold in the United States is imported from China and Canada, the world’s largest exporters of the crop.
 
The full text and history of Senate Bill 305 can be found here.
 
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