July 12, 2016
Industrial hemp will soon become legal in Pennsylvania.
House Bill 967 passed the state House and Senate this week and allows for pilot programs to begin industrial hemp research under the oversight of the Department of Agriculture.
A spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday he would sign the bill into law.
Hemp can be used to make a variety of products, including clothing, medicine and food, according to the Pennsylvania Hemp Industrial Council.
As the Central Penn Business Journal noted, hemp comes from the cannabis plant, and production of it stopped in 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act outlawed it because it came from the same plant as marijuana.
The Pennsylvania legislation was introduced by state Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, who called the early 20th century federal act an "overreaching attempt to fight marijuana use" in an April press release announcing the bill.
“We put a lot of effort into educating other legislators about the usefulness of this crop and its positive economic and environmental promises for Pennsylvania,” Diamond said at the time.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 184-0.
Its passage comes during a time of marijuana liberalization in the state.
In April, medicinal use of the drug for certain qualifying conditions was legalized.
Additionally, state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, has been working on legislation that would legalize recreational use of the drug by selling it through the state-run liquor stores.