Hemp bill rolls on

California farmers may be growing closer to cultivating hemp for seeds, oil and fiber thanks to legislation that passed in the state Assembly last week.

Assembly Bill 684 proponents say it would regulate commercial farming of a variety of cannabis that contains no psychoactive properties, allowing California’s ag sector to tap into a $270 million industry. The bill is now in the hands of the state Senate, but hinges on the approval of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed a similar bill last year.

Industrial hemp is one of nature’s strongest fibers. It’s processed throughout the world for body-care products, food, paper, clothing, automotive parts, building materials, and many other things. More than 30 industrialized nations grow industrial hemp, and many export it to the United States.

North Dakota is the only state that allows the production of the product.