Gov. Ducey signs off on bill legalizing industrial hemp farming

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Until this week, industrial hemp farming was illegal in Arizona. Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill reversing that. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Until this week, industrial hemp farming was illegal in Arizona. Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill reversing that. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
For three generations, Sean Dugan's family has been farming out in Casa Grande. Currently, they have several fields with cotton on them. Soon Dugan hopes he'll be able to start growing another cash crop. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) For three generations, Sean Dugan's family has been farming out in Casa Grande. Currently, they have several fields with cotton on them. Soon Dugan hopes he'll be able to start growing another cash crop. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
CASA GRANDE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Pot's cousin, hemp, is now legal to grow in Arizona. The two plants look similar, but you can't get high off hemp. 

Until this week, industrial hemp farming was illegal. Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill reversing that. 

[RELATED: Arizona governor allows industrial hemp]

For three generations, Sean Dugan's family has been farming out in Casa Grande. 

"Corn, alfalfa, different things like that," he said. 

Currently, they have several fields with cotton on them. Soon Dugan hopes he'll be able to start growing another cash crop. 

[RELATED: AZ lawmakers might soon legalize growing hemp]

"Hemp is something we've looked at for a long time," said Dugan. 

Hemp is used around the world to make building materials, oil, clothing and you can even eat the seeds. 

But nationally, growing it is illegal because it's so closely related to marijuana. 

[RELATED: Marijuana growers turning to hemp as CBD extract explodes]

Slowly, many states are changing the rules. This week, it was Arizona's turn. 

Gov. Ducey signed SB 1098 into law. It provides funding for a pilot program through the Arizona Department of Agriculture, allowing universities and farmers who get a license to begin cultivating industrial hemp.

“This bill opens Arizona to the possibility of a new agricultural product,” said Gov. Ducey said in a news release. “I’m glad to sign a bill that could have a positive economic impact for the state.”

"Hemp uses a third of the water that cotton does. With the water issues going on in Arizona right now, that's a home run for Arizona farmers right there," said Dugan. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona politics]

Dugan says farmers will still need someone to take the raw crop and process it into a useable material they can sell. 

Nationally, now he's talking to farmers in other states to see how they do it. He also has a company called Item 9 Labs Corps ready to go to take on the new role. 

"We've got to make sure that once we harvest the crop it doesn't sit on the side of the field and we've got nobody to pick it up." 

Dugan thinks it'll be a trial and error process, but believes eventually they'll get it right and even make some green off this new crop. 

"I think we'll make more [than cotton], I think we'll make twice as much off hemp," said Dugan.

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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