Pa. Accepting Applications To Grow, Study Industrial Hemp

November 29, 2018

Pennsylvania is again expanding its industrial hemp research program in the third year since prohibition of the plant was partially lifted. The state Department of Agriculture is accepting applications through Dec. 17 from interested farmers, researchers and entrepreneurs interested in growing industrial hemp for research purposes. As many as 60 projects will be selected, up from a maximum of 50 this year and 30 in 2017. Both individuals and institutions of higher education can apply for a permit. Individuals can grow up to 100 acres, whereas institutional permit holders can grow as much as they want, though fees apply. The agriculture department will notify tentatively approved applicants by Jan 4. It will select projects based on “a complete program application and merit of the proposed research.” “Industrial hemp has a rich history in Pennsylvania, and presents a future opportunity for growers, processors, and other businesses that make a range of products across the commonwealth,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a news release. “The first research projects conducted have shown exciting progress and possibilities for this re-emerging crop.” Visit the agriculture department’s website to obtain application materials, application instructions and more information about the program. Industrial hemp refers to the varieties of the cannabis sativa plant that have a negligible amount (0.3 percent or less) of THC, the chemical compound that gets you high. Industrial hemp does not get you high, but it got caught up in America’s indiscriminate 20th century war on marijuana. Cultivation has remained banned since World War II because the federal Controlled Substances Act still classifies hemp under its broad definition of marijuana as a drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill gave states the authority to establish agricultural research pilot programs, and Pennsylvania did so in 2016. Hemp has a slew of potential applications, including but not limited to beauty products, clothing, car parts. building materials and housing insulation, energy storage devices for electronics, pest resistance and weed suppression, medicine, salad dressings and fool oils and rope. The state Department of Agriculture maintains a DEA a general import registration to import industrial hemp seed into the commonwealth. Selected research candidates can work with the department’s registered importer to purchase international seed for their projects. Appropriate research topics include planting methods, seed variety trials, development of harvesting methods and equipment uses, development of hemp CBD products and biofuel uses, among others. Applicants must pay a nonrefundable $300 fee to apply, up $50 from the previous process, and another $2,000 if selected for a new permit. Existing permit holders must pay $600 to renew the fee.

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