The House Finance Committee unanimously passed HB154 HD2, to establish an industrial hemp research pilot program, on Monday, February 25, 2013. A primary focus of the research is phytoremediation, the process by which the hemp plant draws toxins out of the soil and processes them safely through its roots, stalk, branches, and leaves, leaving the soil refreshed and ready for the next crop.
Lawmakers are working to expand the scope of the research to include the viability of industrial hemp as a biofuel feedstock, an application that has shown promise elsewhere.
HB154 now goes to the floor of the House for a third reading, after which it goes to the Senate.
“This is great news for Hawaii’s agricultural industry,” said State Representative Cynthia Thielen (R, 50th District: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay), who cosponsored HB154. “Phytoremediation is how the hemp plant actually cleans pesticides, oil, and other toxins from the soil it’s growing in. They planted hemp to clean the soil at Chernobyl — surely our overstressed agricultural lands could benefit from it, too.”
“The bill’s passage through three House committees also is a good sign that people are recognizing that hemp is a really useful plant,” Thielen added. “Not just for phytoremediation, but in making clothing, termite-proof building materials, food products, and biofuel. Hawaii is poised to really take advantage of hemp cultivation, the way that Canada, China, Japan, and several European countries already do.”
HB154 was introduced by Thielen, Speaker Joseph Souki, Representative Derek Kawakami, Representative Sylvia Luke, and Representative Angus McKelvey.
HB154’s companion legislation, HCR3 and HR6, which call on Congress and the President to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, passed the Hawaii House of Representatives earlier in February.