|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:
Introduced as SR421