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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 17, 2014 10:13 AM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank and Sen. Mike Folmer
To: All Senate members
Subject: Industrial Hemp
We will shortly be introducing legislation to permit the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp in Pennsylvania.
While a member of the cannabis family, industrial hemp has a very low level of tetrahydrocannbinol (THC) and does not have a psychoactive effect. The level of THC in marijuana, for example, ranges from six percent to more than 20 percent, while the level in industrial hemp is less than 0.03 percent.
Industrial hemp has been used for thousands of years in numerous applications, and until the last century was commonly grown in the Commonwealth. Today it is estimated that there are more than 50,000 potential applications for it across a wide spectrum of industries, including textiles, building materials, industrial products, baby care, food, paper and energy and environmental products. It is used in the door panels of Mercedes Benz vehicles, formed the straps that held former president George H.W. Bush in his parachute after being shot down in World War II, and the first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence were printed on it.
The world market is dominated today by China, but it is also widely grown in France and Canada, and the United States is the world's largest importer. Although federal law for decades prohibited the cultivation and growth of cannabis without distinguishing industrial hemp from the psychoactive forms, the federal Farm Bill of 2014 now authorizes pilot programs for industrial hemp. More than a dozen states permit its production, with efforts pending in Congress to legalize its commercial growth and processing nationally.
Our proposal will provide for an industrial hemp industry in the Commonwealth through the establishment of an Industrial Hemp Licensing Board within the Department of Agriculture to license and regulate the cultivation, growth and sale of industrial hemp. Members of the board would be the president of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Commissioner of Professional and Occupational Affairs, or their designees; two public members appointed by the governor; and two representatives of state-related universities and research institutions in the commonwealth appointed by the governor.

Introduced as SB50