Pubdate: Wed, 03 Jan 2018
Source: Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
Copyright: 2018 The Morning Call Inc.
Author: Andrew Wagaman


The second coming of industrial hemp in Pennsylvania is entering its
second year, with greater opportunities available to interested
farmers, researchers and entrepreneurs thanks to the expanded scope of
the Department of Agriculture's pilot program.

But you still need approval from the state to grow hemp, and the Jan.
19 application deadline is fast approaching. Here's what prospective
applicants need to know:

How to apply: Here's the agriculture department's industrial hemp
landing page, and here's a direct link to the application.

What is industrial hemp? Industrial hemp refers to the varieties of
the cannabis sativa plant that have a negligible amount (0.3 percent
or less) of THC, the chemical compound that gets you high. Industrial
hemp does not get you high, but it got caught up in America's
indiscriminate 20th century war on marijuana. Cultivation has
essentially remained banned because the federal Controlled Substances
Act still classifies hemp under its broad, archaic definition of
marijuana as a drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential
for abuse.

What can industrial hemp be used for? About 25,000 different things
(seriously). A sampling: Beauty products. Clothing. Car parts.
Building materials and housing insulation. Energy storage devices for
electronics. Pest resistance and weed suppression. Medicine. Salad
dressings and food oils. Rope.

If the Feds still associate hemp with pot, how can we grow it? The
2014 U.S. Farm Bill gave states the authority to establish
agricultural research pilot programs, and Pennsylvania did so in 2016.

What are the rules of this pilot program? Here's the complete list of
the 2018 parameters, as well as a summary of the main points. The
agriculture department will allow up to 50 projects this year, up from
30 last year. The department will allow projects focusing on the the
growth, cultivation or marketing of industrial hemp exclusively for
research purposes and not for the purposes of general commercial activity.

Wait, so can I sell the hemp I grow or not? Products produced from
hemp grown in Pennsylvania may be sold as part of "approved marketing
research." In their permit applications, program participants must
describe what will happen to the plants and seeds at harvest. PDA will
issue permits to move plant material or seeds for processing within
the commonwealth. Once processed, most materials can move freely
within and outside of the commonwealth. All products or substances
distributed or sold must meet all state and federal laws, and
regulations that are applicable to the commodity.

How much hemp can I grow? Individual applicants can grow up to 100
acres, which is pretty cool considering the max was just 5 acres last
year. And if a farmer collaborates with an institute of higher
education, you can grow as much as you want.

What's the deal with CBD? Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound
found in the female flower of the plant. It's not psychoactive, but it
does have medicinal value. In another change from last year's program,
the agriculture department is allowing pilot program participants to
study growth, cultivation, and marketing relevant to the extraction or
production of CBD compounds or substances that contain them.

How much does this all cost? The initial (non-refundable) application
fee is $250, and successful applicants will pay another $2,000 before
getting their permit (down from $3,000 last year). Participants will
be subject to farm and/or establishment inspections to verify
compliance with all requirements of the contract and individual permit
issued, and the agriculture department charges $100 an hour for staff
time spent on inspections, including travel. Other charges apply for
plant material and seed testing.

How do I get hemp seed? The agriculture department has been granted a
general DEA import registration, and successful applicants can
purchase seed from their seed supplier for import under DEA permits
linked to the PDA import registration.

Why did the agriculture department expand the program parameters? Last
year, 14 permit holders planted and grew slightly more than 36 acres
of industrial hemp. Advocates with, among others, the Pennsylvania
Hemp Industry Council and Pennsylvania Farm Union, complained that the
regulations were too restrictive and made cultivation

Sen. July Schwank, a Berks Democrat who spearheaded the hemp bill,
commended both the Hemp Industry Council for its tenacious outreach
and the Wolf administration for its responsiveness to suggested pilot
program reforms.

"They were responsive from the outset, and this 2018 program is light
years away from where we were," she said in an interview last week.
"It's a game-changer in terms of getting Pennsylvania to forefront of
hemp culture in the U.S., and I hope the results of this year are even
more encouraging."

What kind of projects would the agriculture department like to see?
Research topics that the department considers "appropriate" include
planting methods, seed variety trials, development of harvesting
methods and equipment uses, biofuel and many more listed in the 2018

Hemp is notoriously challenging to harvest using traditional swathers
or combines because it's strong, sticky and grows more than 20 feet
tall. Fred Strathmeyer, the agriculture department's deputy secretary
for plant industry and consumer protection, said in an interview last
week that he's hoping some researchers work with an agricultural
machinery manufacturer -- perhaps New Holland Agriculture of Lancaster
County -- to study what kinds of equipment works best for harvesting
hemp fiber and hemp seeds.

How do I apply again? Fill out the industrial hemp pilot program
application and return it to the agriculture department by 4 p.m. Jan.
19. For more information, check out the agriculture department's
industrial hemp Q&A.
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MAP posted-by: Matt