By Laura Haefeli

SUTTER COUNTY (CBS13) –  One company in Sutter County is causing quite the stink. Neighbors have had enough of the hemp growing business they say can be smelled from miles away.

“During the summer it’s nice and cool and everyone likes to open the windows. Well you know we open the windows here and you get the smell all over the place,” Paul Wheeler said.

Wheeler lives on the same rural road as the 1975 Group, an industrial hemp growing company with acres of hemp.

“They’re out until 1 o’clock in the morning and they’re out there planting by hand and then you hear the horn honk and it’s like, are you kidding me?” Wheeler said.

The 1975 Group LLC moved into Sutter County just a few months ago. It is permitted by the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture to cultivate hemp between April 2020 and April 2021.

“Every grow is registered with our agricultural commissioner’s office. There’s testing standards and if the THC is over a certain limit it will be destroyed,” Sutter County Administrative Officer Steven Smith said.

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Priscilla Agoncillo is the president of the Cannabinoid Industry Association. She says that in the U.S., anything below .03% THC is considered hemp. The crops are not psychoactive and have more than 500 uses.

“The difference between hemp and cannabis or marijuana is really the designation of allowable THC percentage,” Agoncillo said. “You can use hemp for fiber rope clothing. You can use it for food protein. In reality, is it’s a very positive crop to have growing.”

But neighbors still are not impressed.

“The smell is the worst thing,” Wheeler said.

Sutter County is considering an ordinance that would set up distance buffers between hemp grows and more populated areas, but until then the county’s hands are tied.

“They’re permitted and in Sutter County hemp is treated like any other agricultural product,” Smith said.

The 1975 Group was not available for comment but they’re not alone. There are several companies in Sutter County growing industrial hemp.

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