Pennsylvania recently made the decision to remove limitations on industrial hemp, a surprisingly welcome move that will essentially enable farmers to have relatively open access to the hemp industry in the state, according to a report from The Morning Call.
The Keystone state recently submitted their updated hemp plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Farm Bill of 2018 essentially legalized industrial hemp, but as expected, the federal government pumped their brakes when it comes to establishing hemp-growing regulations. Before the Farm Bill, hemp growing was restricted to pilot programs in most states, which continues now.
Pennsylvania apparently wants no part of those pilot programs, which limited industrial hemp farms to 84 throughout the Keystone State. The agriculture department of Pennsylvania reversed a 2018 decision that only 100 acres of hemp plants should be grown in the state.
Even after this monumental achievement for hemp in the Keystone State, hurdles are still in place. Cannabis advocates in Pennsylvania rightly point to “80 years of missing information” when it comes to legally cultivating hemp and cannabis. The most common issues surrounding hemp cultivation are pest control and harvesting. Currently, there are no commercial hemp processing facilities in Pennsylvania, but that could change in the near future.
“It’s one more step, but in this case it’s a big step for Pennsylvania farmers who are certainly seeking alternatives in new rotational crops,” said Geoff Whaling, President of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industrial Council.
The laws regarding legal cannabis in the state of Pennsylvania have been rapidly evolving within the last year, and especially the last few months. The medical cannabis program in the Keystone State recently received a review and overhaul, allowing for the necessary expansion of the program. Additionally, high-ranking state officials like Governor Tom Wolfe have called for a “serious look” at legalizing recreational cannabis.
The expansion of the state’s medical cannabis program, the removal of restrictions on hemp and the proposals for recreational adult use in the state aim to put Pennsylvania on par with other states that surround it, such as New York and New Jersey. Will the removal of commercial restrictions on industrial hemp in the Keystone State eventually lead to full legalization? Only time will tell.