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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: September 19, 2018 03:20 PM
From: Senator Sharif Street and Sen. Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Industrial Hemp Resolution
In the near future, we will introduce a resolution urging the United States Congress to pass a 2018 Farm Bill that includes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 and calling on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to conduct a study of industrial hemp research pilot programs and prepare recommended draft statutory and regulatory language so that PA farmers can begin hemp production in 2019.

Hemp has often been confused with marijuana, as it is a member of the cannabis family. However, it has no psychoactive effect because of a very low level of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Hemp has a long 260-year history of being grown in Pennsylvania because our climate and soil are well suited for its growth. It has literally thousands of applications and can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.

Such a versatile agricultural plant can offer Pennsylvania farmers a valuable additional crop option and may lead to a significant economic benefit in our agricultural industry. Pennsylvania farmers should have the opportunity to grow this crop and Pennsylvania businesses should be able to manufacture and commercially market products made from hemp beginning in 2019.

The federal farm bill of 2014 allowed states to create pilot programs for industrial hemp. Pennsylvania took advantage of that opportunity, and today more than 40 permit holders are farming 900 acres of hemp crop.
This fall, Congress is set to pass a farm bill which includes language from the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 that removes hemp from the Schedule 1 Controlled Substance List and makes it fully legal to grow as an agricultural crop. We strongly urge Congress to do so. It is important that the Secretary of Agriculture begin studying the current industrial hemp pilot program to make preparations so that Pennsylvania farmers are able to begin growing industrial hemp in the 2019 growing season.

Additionally, the resolution urges any Pennsylvania hemp regulations to be based on the following principles:‚Äč
  • The growth and cultivation of industrial hemp produced in compliance with federal law is an agricultural crop, just like any other commodity like corn, wheat, soybeans, etc.
  • Hemp producers must have access to US supplied seed, germplasm, rooted cuttings, and other genetics, rather than being required to use “certified seed” imported to the US from a foreign source, as is the current requirement.
  • All hemp products, including genetics, must be able to be freely shipped across state lines in and out of the Commonwealth.
  • The Department of Agriculture should prepare a process for Pennsylvania institutions of higher education to gain approval to conduct hemp research compliant with existing law and eligible for federal grant funding.
  • The Department of Agriculture should be taking steps to create educational opportunities for the next generation of farmers to understand hemp growth, cultivation, and market possibilities.
We hope you will join us in co-sponsoring this resolution. Please contact Micah Mahjoubian at micah@pasenate.com if you have any questions.

Introduced as SR421