HARRISBURG, Oct. 27, 2015 – Without opposition, state Sen. Judy Schwank’s proposal to once again make industrial hemp a legal cash crop in Pennsylvania moved out of committee and to the Senate floor today.
The Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, of which Schwank is the Democratic chair, voted 11-0 in support of the Berks County lawmaker’s Senate Bill 50.
“Industrial hemp is another crop they can use as something new or something they can use as ground cover or to prevent erosion if their fields are fallow or if flooding affects them,” Schwank said following the committee’s vote today. “We hope that, once we get this started, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can become a powerhouse in the growth of hemp for all kinds of uses.”
SB 50 would allow the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp as part of a research program at a college or university – in accordance with federal law – under the regulation of a five-member Industrial Hemp Licensing Board that would be established within the Department of Agriculture.
Industrial hemp would also be recognized in Pennsylvania as an oilseed.
“Industrial hemp is not marijuana, and it’s not medical marijuana,” Schwank said. “It’s an age-old plant that has benefitted farmers and consumers for thousands of years, and it holds the promise of helping Pennsylvania farmers in significant ways, once again.”
Sen. Schwank said there are some 50,000 ways industrial hemp can be used, including in textiles, building materials, industrial products, food, paper, and environmental products.
“This is a multi-million dollar industry in the U.S. and there is great demand for these products,” Schwank said. “There are so many opportunities for this, and we’re losing out by not being able to grow it.”