The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday to legalize industrial hemp across the state, sending the legislation to Gov. Tom Wolf.
The House voted 184-0 on July 10 to approve the legislation, following a state Senate vote earlier this month.
The bill is now on its way to Wolf’s desk.
If signed into law, the bill will allow private farmers to grow industrial hemp for research purposes through pilot programs overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture or institutions of higher education.
Hemp is a product that stems from the cannabis plant, and it can be manufactured into products such as paper, clothing, fuel and animal feed.
It can also be formed into a lumber-like product that can be used to make cabinets, flooring and even walls.
The bill, H.B. 967, was sponsored by State Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) in an effort to reestablish the industrial hemp industry in Pennsylvania, which used to lead the nation up until the early 1900s.
Industrial hemp production stopped in 1937 after the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, since hemp and marijuana came from the same plant.
The reintroduction of industrial hemp could impact many different industries, not just agriculture.
Since the plant grows between 12 feet and 18 feet tall, for example, it could drive a need for new farming equipment.
The U.S. annually imports about $600 million worth of hemp products from Canada and China.
The U.S. imports the most hemp of any nation and is the only importing nation that doesn’t grow the plant.