HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The state House of Representatives has approved legislation to create an agricultural pilot program for industrial hemp research.

House Bill 967 was sent to the state Senate by a unanimous vote Wednesday, according to Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon).

Diamond’s proposal would allow industrial hemp to be grown or cultivated in special research and development programs administered by colleges and the state Department of Agriculture.

“We put a lot of effort into educating other legislators about the usefulness of this crop and its positive economic and environmental promises for Pennsylvania,” Diamond said in a statement. “While the passage of House Bill 967 is cause for some celebration, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to get the Senate to concur, the governor to sign it into law, and to create a hemp industry from scratch.”

Pennsylvania once led the nation in producing industrial hemp, which is used to manufacture products such as paper, cloth, rope and building materials.

Americans import hemp products because 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.

The 2014 Farm Bill loosened restrictions on the production of industrial hemp and authorizes pilot programs.

Gov. Tom Wolf has said he supports reviving the state’s hemp industry.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC 27 News App and the ABC 27 Weather App for your phone or tablet.