Riverside County Could Be the Next to Embrace Hemp

Riverside County supervisors have asked staff to come up with an ordinance allowing hemp cultivation in unincorporated parts of the county. An urgency ordinance extending a ban on hemp cultivation has also failed, as reported by City News Service

Last year, President Trump signed the U.S. Farm Bill, which effectively legalized hemp production nationwide. That renewed farmers’ interest and prompted local jurisdictions to respond. Most have taken a wait-and-see approach, banning industrial hemp until more is known. But a number of counties such as Imperial and Stanislaus have embraced the crop.

Opposition to hemp cultivation mainly centers on the difficulty in distinguishing it from traditional cannabis. In Stanislaus, for instance, tests will have to be performed to confirm hemp is actually hemp. 

Some residents have also voiced concerns about the smell. Cannabis cultivator Stan McNaughton thinks that’s ridiculous.

“How can somebody tell me I can't grow because it smells?" McNaughton asked at a recent Riverside Board of Supervisors meeting. "What about garlic farmers?"

If Riverside wishes to pursue industrial hemp cultivation, an ordinance relaxing current zoning and land use laws will be required. The Planning Commission would hold hearings on the matter in a process that could take up to half a year.

Given hemp’s economic potential, it’s probably worth the wait.