HARRISBURG, March 16, 2016 – State Sen. Judy Schwank’s proposal to return hemp as a legal, cash crop in Pennsylvania was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate today.

Senate Bill 50, which Schwank and Sen. Mike Folmer introduced more than a year ago, was approved by the upper chamber, 49-0.

“The United States imports $650 million worth of hemp from Canada and China,” Schwank said during floor remarks. “In Canada hemp is estimated to be more than a $2 billion crop. Pennsylvania farmers who can grow hemp should be allowed to once again.”

If approved by the governor, SB 50 would start small with a pilot program under the supervision of academic and state government experts.

“The goal is to research best practices and clear the way for Pennsylvania to become a hemp-farming powerhouse,” Schwank said. “I am not expecting hemp to be used commercially for many years, but this pilot program gets Pennsylvania’s foot in the door, and opens the possibilities for future generations of farmers.”

Senate Bill 50 has yet to garner a negative vote. The Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, of which Schwank is the Democratic chair, voted 11-0 in favor of the bill this past October.

The legislation moves to the House now for consideration.

“Hemp would allow Pennsylvania to be on the same playing field with states that have already passed some form of hemp legislation,” Schwank said. The soil and climate here in PA is perfect for growing hemp and hemp got its start in PA. We have townships such as Hempfield Township in Lancaster that were named after the crop and its viability in the area.

“I don’t think there are arguments against hemp; I look at it more as a misunderstanding.”

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