Pa. senators introduce industrial hemp bill

Industrial hemp cultivation in France
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Industrial hemp cultivation in France Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Two state senators have introduced legislation to re-establish the industrial hemp industry in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 50 would allow the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp as part of a research program at a college or university.

Industrial hemp would be regulated by a five-member licensing board that would be established within the Department of Agriculture.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon).

Schwank said the return of industrial hemp would give Pennsylvania’s farmers the opportunity to grow an in-demand crop that benefits tens of millions of people all over the world. Hemp is used to manufacture products such as paper, cloth, rope and building materials.

The federal 1937 Marijuana Tax Act restricted industrial hemp production. In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act declared hemp to be illegal because hemp, like marijuana, comes from the cannabis plant.

The 2014 Farm Bill loosened restrictions on the production of industrial hemp and authorizes pilot programs. More than a dozen states permit its production, and efforts are pending in Congress to legalize its commercial growth and processing nationally.

Folmer said industrial hemp is very low in tetrahydrocannbinol (THC), which causes the psychoactive effect of marijuana. He said misconceptions of hemp are withholding Pennsylvania from opportunities for its agricultural and business industries.

Folmer is planning to hold a town hall meeting March 11 in Annville to discuss the industrial hemp proposal as well as Senate Bill 3 that would allow the use of medical cannabis.

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