RED LION, Pa. (WHTM) - Pennsylvania's first hemp processing plant is set to open in York County this year.
Wyndridge Farms owner Steve Groff is opening the plant in Red Lion where hemp will be turned into hundreds of products for distribution across North America.
"I think people will be blown away when they understand some of the neat things that hemp can do," Groff said. "It's an exciting time to be in this industry as it's about to emerge from nearly 80 years of absence."
Pennsylvania was once a major hemp producer, but 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. Hemp, however, does not contain high levels of the psychoactive component THC.
The 2014 federal farm bill loosened restrictions on the production of industrial hemp and allowed pilot programs. The 2018 farm bill removed hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.
Hemp can be used for beauty products, food, building and clothing materials, and medicine.
Local farmer Dan Innerst says with the processing plant so close, he's devoting the majority of his fields to hemp. He said hemp is easy to grow, cheap to maintain, and potentially much more profitable than his typical crop of corn and beans.
"Every year, we put seed in the ground and hope Mother Nature returns," Innerst said. "Hemp is going to be the same way."
Groff says 3,500 acres of farmland in York and Lancaster counties will be devoted to growing hemp for his processing plant.