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Legislation to Research Hemp for Remediation and Biofuel Approved by Hawaii Senate

By Dave Smith, BigIslandNow.com

A bill that would authorize the dean of the University of Hawaii’s agricultural school to establish a hemp research hawaiiprogram was approved today by the state Senate and sent over to the House.

Introduced by seven senators, including Big Island Sen. Josh Green, Senate Bill 2175 would allow the Dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources to establish a two-year “industrial hemp remediation and biofuel research” program.

According to a report from a joint session of two Senate committees, industrial hemp has a variety of useful applications that make use of its seeds, fibers and other components.

It said the US hemp industry is estimated at half a billion dollars.

Products made with hemp include fabrics, carpeting, home furnishings, construction materials, foods, body-care products and auto parts, the report said.

Hemp also can be used as feedstock for production of biodiesel. Pacific Biodiesel, which operates biofuel plants on Maui and in Keaau on the Big Island, submitted written testimony saying hemp shows great promise in that regard.

“Hawaii can absolutely be at the forefront of the hemp industry which offers such promise to the revitalization of rural America,” said Kelly King, the company’s vice president.

Hemp has long suffered from the stigma of association with the psychoactive forms of marijuana, but that officially changed with President Obama’s signing of the US Agricultural Act of 2014,fullframehemp which authorizes states and universities to legally conduct hemp research.

Hemp’s primary difference from marijuana is the amount of active ingredient it contains. The bill notes that to be considered hemp, the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC content must be less than 0.3%. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, marijuana flowers or buds typically have a THC level of about 10%.

The bill said if the hemp meets that maximum 0.3% threshold, it would not be considered an illegal form of marijuana under Hawaii law.

According to the bill, another promising use of hemp is for “phytoremediation,” the science of using plants called hyper-accumulators to remove toxins from soil.

Pacific Biodiesel’s King said her company would be willing to partner with CTAHR in using hemp in phytoremediation trials.

Testimony submitted to the Senate was overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation, with only the Honolulu Police Department – which said it would be difficult to distinguish hemp from marijuana — and several individuals opposed.

In her testimony, CTAHR Dean Maria Gallo noted that her school lacks the resources to establish a dedicated hemp research program, and the bill in its current form provides no funding.

“However, should extramural funds be made available to faculty within CTAHR, and those faculty are able to comply with applicable state and federal regulations, we are supportive of all legally compliant crop research,” Gallo said.

About Anthony Martinelli

Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.

4 comments

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  1. David

    I have a solution. Arrange a small community of like-minded farmers to donate money towards a fund, to be able to purchase a small island off the Caribbean coastline, where law & policy is only made by those that choose to live by their own law of land, and law of water.

    Workout a strategic plan to live a sustainable lifestyle, with modern agricultural technological advances similar to those used around the world, and a safe and sustainable way to construct buildings.

    Have a system for development, education and self-sustainability, with trade routes of import and export plans, hospital, university and form their own community of law & policy, eliminating federal government from their land.

    “They” can live to their own set of rules, without the fear of a federal government taking away their freedom rights, and accusing them of code of violations for ridiculous matters.

  2. David

    In other words from my previous comment, the president is not a scientist of medicine, who lacks knowledge of the benefits of this plant, was presented a documentation to sign-over for what-ever means and is only really a business man in all of this.

  3. David

    It amazes me how one man can dictate how to live by a list of rules & policy when he was only placed into a presidential position by the same tax-payers who he dictates his law too. When will people stand together and take down the government and learn to take their own leadership without government.

  4. wally so

    it was the us cash crop for centuries,with it’s cash crop potential for clothes,medical value’s, clothing even fuel it don’t take genius to legalize it! even our countries currency was made from it too,it has to many plus reasons not to legalize it! besides a pot smoker don’t fall down,don’t start fights or have anything bad,except a cookie fetish!

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