Hawaii Hemp Bill Heads To Governor 

Hemp in Hawaii - Senate Bill 1353
Image: HDOA

And yet another U.S governor appears to have an industrial hemp bill on his desk to sign – this time in Hawai’i.

The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported early this week a conference committee reviewing Senate Bill 1353 recommended it be passed as part of its last minute business.

SB1353 recognizes the implications of the recently-enacted Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill), and is designed to facilitate the regulation and production of industrial hemp in the state.

It will achieve this by implementing strategies including:

  • Requiring Hawai’i’s Department of Agriculture to establish a permanent industrial hemp program.
  • Easing up on or getting rid of certain regulatory requirements under the existing pilot.
  • Amending definitions of “marijuana” in state law to clarify hemp is not marijuana.
  • Amending references to tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) in state law to exclude tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp.

The Chairperson of the Board of Agriculture will also be required prepare a state plan for approval by the USDA, as is expected of all states wanting to cash in on the crop under provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.

As we mentioned recently, Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture has previously stated a new regulatory program based on the 2018 Farm Bill should be available for next year’s growing season.

The first licenses to growers were issued under the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in June last year and currently, 17 licensees are listed.

In addition to commercial applications, industrial hemp is attractive in Hawai’i as it can remove toxins from soils – this is called phytoremediation. According to SB1353, past agricultural operations in the State have contaminated large amounts of land in the state. It states:

“Hemp grows quickly and is a superior phytoremediation crop.”

The new program, should it go ahead, won’t be a free for all in terms of what strains farmers can grow. Only industrial hemp on the list of cultivars approved by the chairperson of the board of agriculture shall be grown – and these will be varieties certified by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Further information on Hawaii’s current industrial hemp pilot program can be found here.