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By Jeff Pack
Writer 

Industrial hemp farms popping up in Fallbrook and Bonsall

 

Last updated 7/29/2019 at 7:39am

Jeff Pack photos

New chain link fencing with barbed wire has gone up around this industrial hemp farm on Winterhaven Road in Fallbrook. According to the County of San Diego, there are 11 hemp cultivators in the Fallbrook and Bonsall area since they were made legal in April. The one pictured here is registered with the county.

Residents have been noticing a new type of farm taking root in the Fallbrook and Bonsall area – industrial hemp – so, the Village News reached out to County of San Diego Supervising Agricultural Standards Inspector Bonnie Wheeler to get the scoop.

First question: is it legal to grow? The answer is yes.

"The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act was signed into law to authorize the commercial production of industrial hemp in California," Wheeler said. "Before cultivation, an individual interested in growing industrial hemp for commercial purposes must register with the County Agricultural Commissioner of each county where industrial hemp will be grown. Registration became effective on April 25 under Section 4900 of the California Code of Regulations, Title 3."

Second question: can it get you "high?" The answer is no.

Why? There's very, very little tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) within the plant.

"Industrial hemp is legally defined as 'a crop that is limited to types of the plant Cannabis sativa L. having no more than three-tenths of 1 percent THC contained in the dried flowering tops, whether growing or not; the seeds of the plant; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds or resin produced therefrom.'" according to Wheeler. "In addition, the Federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) recognized industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from Schedule 1 status under the Controlled Substances Act.

"Industrial hemp is considered an agricultural commodity but its cultivation is highly regulated to ensure it meets the above definition. In addition to obtaining a registration, industrial hemp cultivators are required to have their crop tested prior to harvest to verify that the THC content does not exceed the legal threshold of 0.3%."

Industrial hemp is used to make paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics,, health food, fuel, and many other uses.

Wheeler said since April 29, the County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures (AWM) received 49 applications and issued 34 registrations for industrial hemp cultivation.

She said there are no limits for the number of registrations the county can approve.

"Currently AWM has registered 15 sites to 11 industrial hemp cultivators in the Fallbrook/Bonsall areas," Wheeler said.

Rows and rows of industrial hemp plants are seen here at a county-registered farm on Winterhaven Road in Fallbrook.

Wheeler said interested growers submit their registration forms to the Agricultural Commissioner and may obtain them electronically from the California Department of Food and Agriculture's website: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/industrialhemp.

She said there is a state fee of $900 per application that must be submitted to the commissioner.

"Industrial hemp cultivation is a statewide program, but local jurisdictions may choose to implement additional requirements," Wheeler said. "No such additional requirements currently exist in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County."

For more information on the laws, regulations and more information regarding industrial hemp, visit https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/awm/industrialhemp.html or https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/industrialhemp/faq.html.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.

 

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