HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hemp can be used in hundreds of products, from food to building materials, but you won’t find farmers growing it in Pennsylvania.
“We can’t grow it here because it got lumped in with its psychoactive cousin, marijuana,” Michael Kovach of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union said. “Even though it is not pyschoactive and doesn’t have any of those properties that its villainized cousin has, it got swept right up with it and outlawed back in the days when they outlawed marijuana.”
Senate Bill 50 could change that. The measure unanimously passed the Senate last week, a big first step to bring hemp back to Pennsylvania farmers.
“Initially, it is going to be in compliance with the Federal Farm Bill which allows individual farmers to grow if they are in conjunction with an institute of higher education,” said Erica McBride of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council. “It will start out small and gradually increase, and as soon as federal law expands further, then we will have the flexibility to open it up further.”
Right now, all hemp is imported, costing the United States billions of dollars.
“We would much rather our Pennsylvania farmers have the opportunity to make that money,” Kovach said. “It would give a lot of row crop farmers another option besides corn and soy and wheat. It is a very sustainable crop and it does well here because it is indigenous here, so it is a win-win-win.”
“We have a great anticipation that this is going to be a tremendous new industry for Pennsylvania,” McBride said. “We are going to bring jobs back, we are going to help the environment, and we are going to do a lot of wonderful things.”