Thielen-backed Hemp Bill Passed

A bill to establish a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel research program at UH Manoa was passed last month and signed by the governor, capping a years-long campaign by Rep. Cynthia Thielen to allow its cultivation in the Islands.

“There’s a huge global market for hemp,” said Thielen, R-50th District (Kailua-Kaneohe Bay), “and the U.S. is the largest consumer at nearly $500 million per year.” She called the passage of SB2175 the first step toward making Hawaii a hugely profitable source for the worldwide demand.

The non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana, industrial hemp fibers can be combined with lime to create hempcrete, a termite-proof building material. It is a legitimate, versatile, valuable crop used in thousands of consumer products, Thielen said, and it can promote sustainability for the state.

“Its use goes back thousands of years in Europe and Asia,” she pointed out during her 2013 effort to pass the measure, “even in the American colonies and up until the 1970s in the United States.”

The next step for Thielen is to make sure the UH research is not delayed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs, which were recently sued by the state of Kentucky for impounding its order of hemp seeds from China.