HB967 – The Industrial Hemp Research Act is officially introduced!
Earlier this year in February State Senator Judy Schwank introduced the Industrial Hemp Act, also known as SB50. SB50 was assigned to the state senate Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee where it currently waits action. KCC has been working with Senator Schwank’s office since July of 2014.
Today Representative Russ Diamond has introduced companion legislation into the state House of Representatives. The bill is called HB967 or the Industrial Hemp Research Act.
KCC has been in contact with Rep. Diamond since January and we have been anxiously awaiting his hemp bill. Although just formally introduced today, April 13, 2015, HB967 has 23 cosponsors already!
Of course, getting the bills introduced is only so exciting. Thousands of bills are introduced into the Pa. General Assembly each year and almost all of them die in committees without ever being heard or considered, let alone passed.
That is not the case though with the hemp bills. Rep. Martin Causer is the Chairman of the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee. Causer has indicated that there is much interest in the General Assembly regarding hemp and that hearings may be held soon.
The purpose of the house hearings are to determine the limits of federal policy regarding industrial hemp. Some believe that federal policy limits the growing of hemp to universities and research facilities only. We believe that federal policy allows, and precedent demonstrates, that individual farmers or third party participants can grow hemp if licensed by the board, Department of Agriculture, or is affiliated with the university research projects. The hearings will help determine policy here in Pennsylvania. We hope to have similar hearings in the State Senate as well.
Medical cannabis is also moving in the General Assembly. The State Senate held a hearing and the House has held two hearings on medical cannabis as well. We expect the senate committee to send SB 3 to the floor for a vote the week of April 20. It will pass the senate overwhelmingly and sent to the House. Governor Wolf will sign it. We are pushing the House to pass a good bill and not cut up SB 3 any further.