Pubdate: Sun, 29 Apr 2018
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2018 Star Advertiser
Author: Andrew Gomes


Hawaii is another step closer to finding out whether industrial hemp
could be a major crop.

The state Department of Agriculture announced earlier this month that
it is accepting applications for state licenses to grow hemp.

This comes nearly two years after the state enacted a law to establish
a pilot program for commercial production.

"Many believe that industrial hemp can be an important crop in
Hawaii," Gov. David Ige said in a statement. "This pilot program is a
strong and prudent step in helping to determine the viability of this
crop in Hawaii."

About 38 states already allow or are proposing to allow industrial
hemp cultivation, according to the Agriculture Department.


A variety of the plant Cannabis sativa with no more than 0.3 percent
tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive chemical known as THC.

The plant can grow 10 feet tall.

Uses include food, fuel, building materials and textiles.

Can be harvested three times a year in Hawaii.

For Hawaii, efforts made over the past two years included establishing
Act 228 in 2016, amending it last year, researching hemp farming
elsewhere, testing hemp plants locally and getting federal and state
drug enforcement agencies to allow hemp seed imports from China.

"In establishing this program, we had to consider many complex issues,
including growing climate, seed varieties, laboratory testing, legal
issues and program management," Scott Enright, Agriculture Department
director, said in a statement.

Program manager Shelley Choy explained that drug enforcement issues
were complicated because hemp and marijuana are members of the same
plant species, Cannabis sativa. In fact, it's possible to grow a hemp
plant with concentrations of the psychoactive chemical
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that technically makes it marijuana. So the
federal government treats hemp the same as marijuana, labeling it a
"Schedule 1" drug just like heroin and LSD.

To be hemp, THC content must be at or below 0.3 percent. That's about
33 percent lower than the least potent marijuana and cannot make
someone high, according to the Agriculture Department.

Choy said hemp plants can produce different amounts of THC - as well
as more or less biomass - depending on levels of light, nutrients and
other factors. "You don't know (the THC level) until you test it," she

Under the program, licensees must have plant samples collected and
tested by a laboratory certified by the state Department of Health.
Other requirements include submitting reports on planting, harvesting
and hemp movement. Information that can advance research, including
operating costs, water use, pest management and security also is sought.

The state plans to provide multiple varieties of hemp seeds, starting
with one called Yuma.

Proponents of a local hemp industry tout that parts of the plant can
be used to make textiles, a building material, food like greens and
tea, animal feed, biofuel and more.

"Industrial hemp is an extremely viable and multi-faceted commercial
agricultural crop which could benefit and bolster our local
agricultural industry and economy," Melody Heidel, a participant in a
University of Hawaii hemp research project, said in written testimony
on the bill that became Act 228.

Jennifer Bright, founder of local textile and fashion company Wear on
Earth who worked on a UH hemp feasibility study, sees the plant as a
cash crop that could become associated with Hawaii the way pineapple
once was.

"Swiss chocolate, French champagne, Egyptian cotton, Hawaiian hemp ...
" she said in written testimony.

Initially, the state is making only the Yuma variety available. But
others are slated to follow. Licenses are good for two years, which
could allow several harvests. Licenses can be awarded quarterly
starting in June, although the Agriculture Department said seed
quantities may be very limited until next year.

Use of agricultural land is required to apply along with a $500
nonrefundable fee. Application information is available at
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt