Marijuana For Maui?

Hawai'i Industrial Hemp
Image: BigStock

There’s a push to commence legal industrial hemp cultivation and production in Hawai’i after the closure of a major sugar cane operation was announced.

Last week, more than 650 Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. employees learned they will lose their jobs and the future of Maui’s 36,000 acre sugar cane plantation is in doubt.

A petition started on Change.org says the situation is opportunity for Hawai’i to kick-start an industrial hemp sector.

“Hemp is a crop that will keep our agricultural land in active production, yields high profit margins, provide hundreds of job opportunities, and provide a product for entrepreneurs,” say the petition’s organisers.

It’s a prospect that has the backing of researchers from the University of Hawaii.

University of Hawai’i Waimanalo Research Station scientists have reported that the region is very suitable for the cultivation of industrial hemp. As part of a study, the first hemp seed was planted at the UH Waimanalo Research Station in April last year and harvest began in July.

The researchers were astounding by the growth rate – calling it “crazy fast”. Apparently, the tropical fiber hemp grew over 3 metres high during its crop cycle of 15 weeks. The tropical seed hemp variety didn’t attain such heights, but produced seed in abundance.

A single acre of land in Hawai’i could produce 30 tons of tropical variety hemp stock annually.

The UH researchers state they are ready to commence larger-scale trial plantings once any remaining legal issues are resolved.

Industrial hemp is one of the world’s most useful plants. It can be used for textiles, construction, biofuels, personal care products and food – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s claimed industrial hemp has more than 25,000 uses.

Unlike sugar cane, industrial hemp doesn’t require a great deal of water or other inputs; making it a more environmentally friendly crop. It also isn’t burned prior to harvesting like sugar cane, so air pollution is also eliminated.

At the time of publishing, 1,650 had signed the petition. The petition will be submitted to Senators Roz Baker, Kalani English and Gilbert Keith-Agaran; plus six State Representatives.