Legislators renew push to legalize industrial hemp growing

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(Harrisburg) — While state lawmakers consider legalizing marijuana for medical use, some are urging the commonwealth at least allow one type of the crop for commercial use.

Advocates view industrial hemp as a win-win.

Let’s first be clear: industrial hemp is like marijuana, but can’t really be smoked.

Instead the plant is used in clothes, cars, and paper, among many other goods.

Bills in both the state Senate and House would legalize commercial harvesting of the crop and legislators used a recent hearing to build a case for it.

Jonathan Miller with Kentucky’s Hemp Industry Council was once was a lawmaker who thought it would be easy to vote against something associated with marijuana.

But, he says he did his research, and it paid off.

“Traveling around the state, informing them about the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana, we were not only able to secure passage of legislation in Kentucky, but overwhelming,” says Miller.

In Pennsylvania, the two bills that would legalize and regulate growing industrial hemp are stuck in committee.

However, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, has said he wants the Commonwealth to allow harvesting of the crop.

“The time has come in Pennsylvania. We all know that are sitting here that this is a crop that could be helpful. It’s not a silver bullet, not a panacea, but should be offered to our farmers. Let’s give them that opportunity,” says Democratic Senator Judy Schwank of Berks County is sponsoring one measure.

It would require hemp harvesters to register with the Hemp Research Board within the state Department of Agriculture.

Redding sees a lot of demand for industrial hemp, and a few states have okayed commercial growing.

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