Today the United States Senate approved the Agriculture Act of 2014, also known as the “Farm Bill,” which includes legalization of industrial hemp for research purposes. The Farm Bill states that industrial hemp may be grown for the purpose of state university or state Agriculture Department research without Drug Enforcement Administration permission. Ten states have passed legislation legalizing hemp, and House Bill 154 will make Hawaii the eleventh state.
State Representative Cynthia Thielen (R, 50th District: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay) co-introduced House Bill 154 which would authorize a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research program conducted through the College of Tropical Agriculture at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. When passed, this progressive legislation will keep Hawaii on the cutting edge of agricultural research, help the state realize the economic capabilities of the crop, and potentially restore land previously damaged by earlier contamination.
“With its ability to cleanse the soil of toxins, industrial hemp could be an environmentally friendly replacement for sugar and pineapple,” says Representative Thielen, remarking on hemp’s potential in Hawaii. “Hemp is often grown without pesticides or herbicides due to its natural ability to ward off unwanted insects and weeds. Furthermore, hemp’s potential as a biofuel feedstock could be a game-changer for Hawaii.”
The Farm Bill passed 251-166 in the United States House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 29 and passed 68-32 in the Senate on Tuesday, February 4. HB 154 has already passed through the Hawaii House of Representatives and the joint Agriculture and Energy & Environment committee in the Senate, waiting for final action in the Senate Ways & Means committee and the signature of the Governor where it becomes law.
Representative Thielen notes, “The global market for hemp consists of over 25,000 different products, with U.S. being the world’s largest consumer at nearly $500 million per year. Now that Congress has authorized states to grow industrial hemp, Hawaii can lead these efforts in a climate that will produce three crops a year.”
Civil Beat Feb 05, 2014: Rep. Thielen Welcomes Hemp Research in Farm BIll