New Law Will Launch Industrial Hemp Effort

One obstacle lawmaker Cynthia Thielen faced after her yearlong campaign for Bill SB2175 — passed into law April 30 as Act 56, the state’s Industrial Hemp Research Project — has been removed.

Federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) recent approval of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s hemp seed import permit means a green light for Hawaii’s efforts.

“We have been closely watching the fast-moving drama which has been playing out in Kentucky regarding DEA seizure of industrial hemp seeds from Italy,” stated Rep. Thielen, R-District 50 (Kailua-Kaneohe Bay).

“We are grateful to Kentucky for providing us a model to follow in applying for our own DEA permit.”

The Hawaii project, slated to break ground this summer, was made possible through the national Farm Bill that legalized hemp research in states that allow it to be grown. Since hemp, an innocent and useful relative of marijuana that won’t get you “high,” was made illegal in 1970, states are now forced to import hemp seeds from other countries. The bill establishes a two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel research program at UH Manoa.