Industrial Hemp Cultivation (Sort Of) Legalised Pennsylvania

Industrial hemp in Pennsylvania
Image: BigStock

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an industrial hemp bill into law last week, but the new Act will be rather restrictive.

HB 967, now Act 92, was sponsored by Rep. Diamond and supported by Rep. Flynn.

The Pennsylvania laws enables registered parties to grow, cultivate, and/or market industrial hemp. However, unlike Rhode Island’s recent legalising of hemp, the Act only permits activities within the confines of the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill). This means only educational institutions will hold the permits to grow hemp and only for research purposes.

Educational institutions will be able to contract external parties to grow the crop, with the approval of the new Hemp Research Board. The Board will develop regulations, applications for registration, inspections, a database, registration fees and guidelines for labeling and testing.

While the new Act won’t create a thriving industrial hemp sector in the state initially, it’s a move in the right direction.

“William Penn* himself was an advocate of hemp growth, and in 1683, one of the first laws passed by the General Assembly in Pennsylvania was a law to encourage every farmer to grow hemp,” said Governor Wolf.

“The U.S. industrial hemp industry has been estimated at over $500 million in annual retail sales and is still growing. Supporting this industry in Pennsylvania is a smart investment in the commonwealth’s economy.”

Any industrial hemp, i.e. Cannabis sativa L. to be grown will be restricted to plants with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – a psychoactive component) concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry-weight basis; thus making it unsuitable for recreational use. This restriction refers to any part of the plant, whether growing or not.

Senator Diamond was very pleased with the outcome of his efforts.

“This is a great day for Pennsylvania farmers and our state’s economy,” said the Senator. “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.”

The full text of House Bill 967 can be viewed here (PDF).

In April, Pennsylvania became the 24th US state to legalize medical marijuana.

*William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.