Gov. Wolf signs industrial hemp bill

FILE - This Sept. 23, 2014 file photo shows a close-up view of a hemp plant cut down at a University of Kentucky farm near Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/Dylan Lovan, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Gov. Tom Wolf has signed legislation to create an agricultural pilot program for industrial hemp research.

House Bill 967, now Act 92, allows industrial hemp to be grown and cultivated in special research and development programs administered by colleges and the state Department of Agriculture.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon), said Pennsylvania once led the nation in producing industrial hemp, which is used to manufacture products such as paper, cloth, rope and building materials.

Americans import hemp products because the federal 1937 Marijuana Tax Act restricted industrial hemp production and the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 declared hemp to be illegal because like marijuana it comes from the cannabis plant.

The 2014 Farm Bill loosened restrictions on the production of industrial hemp and authorizes pilot programs.

Diamond called the new law a boon to the state economy and a triumph over more than 80 years of misinformation about the plant. He said hemp is biologically similar to marijuana but does not contain intoxicating levels of THC, the psychoactive chemical that produces a “high.”

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