There are new regulations for where and how hemp growers can operate in unincorporated areas of Riverside County.
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors does not want hemp grown where there is little availability of water, because hemp needs a lot of water.
So, Supervisors have approved the Industrial Hemp Cultivation and Manufacturing Ordinance.
It prohibits hemp cultivation — indoor or outdoor — in large swaths of the Santa Margarita River Watershed, extending from De Luz, just west of Temecula, east to Anza, south to the San Diego County line and north to Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet.
Current growers will have exceptions so they can be grandfathered into the new laws. The County has issued 125 permits to people who want to grow industrial hemp.
Under the new ordinance, indoor and outdoor hemp cultivation must be at least 1,000 feet from all schools, daycare centers, public parks and youth centers; and at least 300 feet from any property in a residential zone.
All indoor hemp cultivation sites must rely on 20% renewable energy for production; and must engage in water conservation and recapturing mechanisms to “minimize use of water where feasible”
All sites must receive prior approval from their local water agency to show that they do not pose a risk of excess or wasteful water consumption.
A hemp grower can have a grow site from 5 to 160 acres, depending on their location. The ordinance mandates limitations on hours of operation to reduce noise, and hemp production won’t be permitted on the same site where cannabis is being grown.
Unlike cannabis, hemp is not federally designated as a controlled substance, and production is permitted on Native American lands, under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians began permitting hemp grows near Mountain Center in January.
This July 2016 photo provided by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture shows industrial hemp growing in a field in North Dakota’s LaMoure County. On-the-farm research in more than a dozen states in recent years is helping farmers better understand how to grow industrial hemp and showing that it has promise to be a viable commercial crop in the U.S. (North Dakota Department of Agriculture via AP)