Folmer leads push for Industrial Hemp
We know Sen. Mike Folmer has been leading the fight to allow medical marijuana use in Pennsylvania. In this new session of the Legislature, he’s also pushing for legalization of industrial hemp for state farmers.
It’s as good, if not better, an idea as the medical marijuana legislation, which we have and continue to back.
Industrial hemp was outlawed in the United State in 1937, at the same time marijuana was railroaded into illegality by a combination of politics, ignorance and some slick anti-marketing.
Folmer, a Republican, is teaming with Berks Democratic Sen. Judy Schwank in introducing Senate Bill 50, the Industrial Hemp Bill.
“This is a no-brainer,” Folmer said in an article that appeared on the Keystone Cannabis Coalition website. See it at http://goo.gl/92GKKY.
He’s right. There are 19 states that have laws in line with the 2014 Farm Bill, which allows for pilot programs for the growth of industrial hemp. Eight states go farther, promoting its growth. Pennsylvania should look to be one of the latter programs that would allow for wider, faster expansion of the growth of this crop.
The array of uses for industrial hemp are stunning. It can be used in fabric, in foods and beverages, as an ingredient in biofuel, for plastics, in building materials and more. It grows quickly and easily and is easy on the environment. Unlike it’s more high-profile cousin, industrial hemp does not contain significant levels of THC, the substance that provides pot users with their high.
We made a horrible mistake outlawing industrial hemp decades ago. It’s past time that we rectified that mistake and allowed for its full re-introduction as a cash crop.
Legalizing industrial hemp would help Pennsylvania farmers, and that is something that Folmer is also enthusiastic about.
“It will help domestic farming, it will help our economy, and it will help our environment,” Folmer said in an interview that appeared on the Fox 43 website at http://goo.gl/w99tSI.
“It’s a win for Pennsylvania agriculture to allow our farmers to stay on their farm, be profitable; gives them another cash crop; it’s a great cover crop,” he added.
Pennsylvania has a history of hemp farming. Folmer and Schwank’s legislation would allow it to have a future as well — one it deserves.
This could, and should, be a big year for hemp and its varieties in Pennsylvania. This should be the year — and it is inexcusable to have it otherwise — that medical marijuana, with all its proven benefits, becomes legal. And it should also be the year we return to the production of industrial hemp for all of its beneficial uses. We still argue for full decriminalization, but wins are wins.
When those bills pass, moving into the future, there will be deserved thanks that will go out to Lebanon County’s Sen. Mike Folmer for leading the charge.