The Sentinel reports…….HANFORD — At its meeting Tuesday morning, The Kings County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt an interim urgency ordinance regarding the cultivation of hemp in Kings County.
The ordinance, among other things, addresses the county’s permitting process, requires certain setbacks for sensitive receptors, limits grows to particular agricultural zones, places a 1-acre limit per permit holder on the amount of land that may be used to cultivate hemp for research or educational purposes, allows the county to inspect and monitor growth of hemp and allows for further regulation.
The ordinance will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2020, unless it’s otherwise amended or repealed.
Hemp comes from the cannabis plant, but does not contain a high amount of THC — the main psychoactive ingredient found in recreational cannabis products. Hemp can be used to make fibers, clothes, paper, oils, lotions and several other items.
The 2018 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2018, removed industrial hemp from the federal list of controlled substances. The bill also authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create quality control standards for hemp production and gave states the ability to adopt their own plans to create regulatory authority over hemp production.
According to a county staff report, the California Department of Food and Agriculture declared in May that the absence of hemp regulations constituted an emergency and advised immediate action to prevent any harm to the welfare of Californians.
The Kings County Agricultural Commissioner-Sealer reported that the hemp growing season is almost underway, with planting expected to occur within the next couple of weeks. The staff report stated that a delay in adopting an ordinance to address hemp cultivation would hinder enforcement efforts and place growers who planted hemp early in an untenable position.
“The cultivation of hemp prior to the adoption of reasonable regulations is harmful to the public peace, the health, safety, and welfare of residents, creates a public nuisance, and threatens the safety of nearby crops,” the report stated.
Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson, who also represents the California State Sheriff’s Association on Industrial Hemp Advisory Board for the state, encouraged the board to adopt the urgency ordinance in an effort to have something in place for future regulation.
Jimmy Hook, Kings County agriculture commissioner, agreed with Robinson, saying the ordinance allows the county to allow hemp growth while ensuring THC levels stay within state law. Growers are expected to let Hook know 30 days prior to harvesting the hemp so he can take samples and test THC levels.
Hemp can have no more than 0.03% of THC. Any hemp with over 1% THC level is then considered cannabis and must be destroyed. Hemp with THC levels between 0.03% and 1% can be retested.