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Economy & Business

Hemp Plants Would Be Legal Under PA Senate Bill

A state legislator from a much more rural portion of Pennsylvania wants to make it legal for farmers to grow industrial hemp. 

State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) said the level of THC, which gives cannabis its psychoactive effect, is so much lower than the plant used in the drug trade that it can hardly been considered in the same conversation.

“Industrial hemp is a very, very beneficial plant,” said Schwank, who is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 50, which would make the cultivation of the plant legal. “It has possible 50,000 uses. Everything from insulation to an incredibly high energy food ... oils, lubricants.”

She believes farmers in the state would benefit economically from what she calls an “in-demand crop that benefits tens of millions of people all over the world.”

“When you talk to farmers they are very excited about the opportunity to get started growing this in Pennsylvania, in fact if we had the seeds I think they would have them in the ground this spring,” Schwank said.

The cultivation of hemp has been controlled in the United States for more than seven decades and was outlawed in 1970. However, the 2014 federal Farm Bill loosened restrictions made it possible for the plant to be grown if there is a state board in place that works through a state institution of higher education.  Schwank suggested Penn State or Delaware Valley College could serve that purpose.

“If we could get this done, hopefully before the end of June, then we might be ready for next years growing season,” Schwank said.