Pubdate: Sun, 17 Jul 2016
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2016 Star Advertiser
Authors: Mike Gabbard, Doug Fine and Denise Key


On July 7, Gov. David Ige signed into law what might prove to be the 
most important piece of economic legislation in the past 50 years. 
Hawaii now enjoys the best hemp law in the nation.

We who have been active in bringing back hemp to agriculture believe 
that generations will still be saying mahalo to those who worked, 
some for decades, to get this law passed. Now it's time to implement it.

The hemp industry is growing 1,000 percent per year in the U.S., 
despite the "research only" provision for hemp in federal law. No 
place is more ready to lead hemp's resurgence than the Aloha State. 
Our year-round cultivation climate, small farmer infrastructure, and 
bottom line need for a regenerative agriculture economy means we have 
all the pieces of the puzzle.

And what does the finished puzzle look like? If we properly implement 
hemp into the islands' soil and finished products, we can move 
steadily toward food, energy and even industrial independence. Soon 
we will State Sen. Mike Gabbard, left, chairs the Water, Land and 
Agriculture Committee; Doug Fine is a hemp farmer; and Denise Key is 
hemp chairwoman of Hawaii Farmers Union United. be printing homes and 
cars on the island from 3D printers using Hawaii-grown hemp 
composites and glues.

How do we get there? Thanks to recent friendly federal legislation, 
individual farmers who are part of state hemp programs are allowed to 
cultivate for any purpose, in any acreage amount. Farmers are even 
allowed to market (that is, to sell) the crop as part of the 
industry's research.

The federal government has had no problem with these policies: hemp 
has tremendous support on the federal level, thanks in no small part 
to co-sponsorship of S. 134 and H.R. 525, which calls for full 
commercial hemp legalization, by U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian 
Schatz, and U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Mark Takai.

There is no need for caution. With full commercial legalization 
around the corner and an industry that today nets a billion dollars 
annually for Canada, it is imperative that we establish the broadest 
regulations for our nascent hemp industry so that we are on the 
leading edge when the industry breaks out. After all, on a level 
playing field, who can compete with the Hawaii Hemp Brand?

If we allow our farmers, processors and entrepreneurs to launch the 
industry with the properly wide trajectory, we are setting the stage 
for a small farmer renaissance, a lucrative cottage industry and a 
leading nanotechnology research center. Research shows hemp provides 
the best fiber for clean, powerful next-generation batteries.

Most of all, hemp's return is a key step toward Hawaii's food and 
energy independence. The seed provides a superfood for humans and 
livestock, the fiber builds homes and provides energy, and the flower 
market is a fast-growing nutraceutical industry in itself.

To concerns that it is costly to administer a hemp program because of 
the current need to test hemp crops (for THC levels), we point out two things:

)) Vermont, a state without a large budget, allows an unlimited (and 
fast-growing) number of hemp farmers with a comparable registration 
fee structure to ours. This includes all fees including testing. It's 
not too burdensome. If they can do it, we can.

There is no need to restrict project applications (some states do, 
some don't, soon none will): The more Hawaii hemp farmers, the 
better, from Year 1.

)) Even a half-million-dollar budget is small change for the billions 
that are going to come from the hemp economy in Hawaii. Any effort we 
put toward nurturing hemp is money and time well spent.

The crop is a key part of Hawaii's future.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom