Governor Wolf signs bill that creates industrial hemp industry

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Governor Tom Wolf signs into a law a bill that allows the cultivation of industrial hemp in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 967, now Act 92 of 2016, sponsored by Representative Russ Diamond, of Lebanon, allows for properly registered individuals to grow, cultivate, and/or market industrial hemp within the confines of the Agricultural Act of 2014.

Agencies, colleges and universities are now able to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. The new law creates the Hemp Research Board, which is now responsible for developing regulations, applications for registration, inspections, a database of registered persons, registration fees, guidelines for labeling and testing.

Diamond hailed the new law as a boon to the state economy and a triumph over more than 80 years of misinformation about the plant.

“This is a great day for Pennsylvania farmers and our state’s economy,” said Diamond.  “Industrial hemp is safely grown worldwide and used in a wide variety of consumer products, from automobile dashboards to clothing.  It is not a drug and does not produce a high. Rather, it is an environmentally friendly, durable fiber with high profit margins.”

Industrial hemp was misidentified as a drug by overzealous federal authorities in the 1930s.  Though biologically similar to the marijuana plant, it does not contain intoxicating levels of THC.  After numerous studies demonstrated the safety of industrial hemp, and to remedy the growing trade imbalance occurring from the importation of hemp-containing merchandise, the 2014 federal Farm Bill allowed industrial hemp to be grown in pilot programs reserved for universities and state departments of agricultural.

Diamond’s bill brings Pennsylvania law into line with the new federal guidelines, allowing the state to reap the economic benefits as restrictions are further lifted.

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