Pa. lawmakers, activists push for industrial hemp
Hemp is deeply rooted in the history of south central Pennsylvania.
Between 1720 to 1870, there were more than 100 water-powered hemp mills in Lancaster and York counties, according to area hemp historian Les Stark. In 1870, Adams County was the second highest producer of the plant, turning out 120 tons of hemp that year. It had faded by 1880, but there was a resurgence of interest in the early 1900s as hundreds of area farmers grew hemp for Hanover Cordage Company, Stark said.
Over the last few years, hemp, a plant that is illegal to grow and process in Pennsylvania, has been on the minds of local and state officials as they work to legalize its use and cultivation, bringing it out of the history books and back into the callused hands of working Americans.
Hemp proponents believe it could be used to produce a litany of products including concrete, motor vehicle parts, food, clothing and environmentally friendly fuel. Legalizing industrial uses of the plant and its cultivation in Pennsylvania, they say, could lead to job creation, economic growth and agricultural sustainability.
Stark has been at the heart of the campaign for years. A Reading man who authored “Hempstone Heritage,” a book series about the plant, Stark has been working with lawmakers across the state to pass hemp reform resolutions and, most recently, a bill.
Two state senators plan to unveil legislation that would permit cultivation and processing of industrial hemp in Pennsylvania under the state’s Department of Agriculture.
Full article from Mark Walters and the Evening Sun here.