On December 7, 2017, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe expanded the Commonwealth’s Hemp Research Pilot Program to allow up to 100 licensed growers and more than 5,000 acres to be grown under the Hemp Research Pilot Program in 2018. The expansion from 30 licensed growers and just 50 acres allowed in 2017, reflects the strong success of the program in it’s inaugural year.
Although a member of the family of cannabis sativa that includes marijuana, hemp does not contain levels of THC that produce psychoactive effects, so it is regulated differently than marijuana. Whereas growing, processing, distributing and consuming marijuana are still federally prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act, industrial hemp has seen a revival around the U.S. because its growth, processing and distribution for research purposes is permitted under the 2014 Federal Farm Bill.
Importantly, the expansion of Pennsylvania’s industrial hemp program, and the industrial hemp programs in other states that traditionally raised large tobacco crops, may be helpful to local economies that have been impacted by declines in tobacco growth.
There are more than 25,000 products and/or uses derived from industrial hemp. Research under the PA program includes, among other things, planting methods, such as seed variety trials, fiber or seed yields, optimum fertility levels, pest management; harvesting techniques or product marketing options; or conservation, remediation or biofuel.
Those interested in participating in 2018 must apply for a permit by January 19, 2018 and meet the requirements of the program. More information can be found at the PA Dept. of Agriculture’s website: