Industrial hemp bill aimed towards helping ag industry passes State House

Published: Mar. 6, 2016 at 2:28 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2016 at 2:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A bill to allow private farmers to grow and sell industrial hemp through permits from the State Department of Agriculture (HB2555) has unanimously passed the Hawaii State House of Representatives and will crossover to the Senate.

Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-Kihei), who wrote and introduced the bill along with 34 of his colleagues, expressed that the purpose of this measure goes beyond a single crop.

"Farmers called for the legalization of industrial hemp, and I am ecstatic to help answer that call. However, industrial hemp is only a part of our necessary vision for renewable, no-burn, diversified agriculture on Maui. My goal is to help form new and much needed unity on Maui. After all, we all want to keep Maui green, and save hundreds of jobs."

The bill is the most robust industrial hemp bill being considered this year, and follows models in Kentucky and Colorado to legalize industrial hemp to the full extent as permitted by Federal law by requiring all growers to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the State Department of Agriculture.

Ing says that the measure is part of package of bills to respond to HC&S recently announced cessation of sugar on Maui.

"Amid the tragic end of the sugar era, we must act quickly to prevent a dustbowl, prolonged joblessness, or rampant development. I am also working to incentivize biofuel crops like sunflowers, form ag-parks so new farmers can grow local food like mango and avocado, and extend training assistance to displaced sugar workers."

Public support has been growing with over 4,500 people signed onto a petition in support of industrial hemp on Maui, and Maui Brewing Co. recent announcement of their soon-to-be released promotional Hemp beer.

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