Great news has arrived for small farmers who want to grow industrial hemp (the close, non-psychoactive cousin to marijuana, with both being derived from the cannabis plant). A bill to allow private farmers to grow and sell industrial hemp through permits from the state’s Department of Agriculture (HB 2555) has unanimously passed the Hawaii State House of Representatives and will go to the Senate.

Hemp differs from marijuana because it contains a minuscule amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance which gives marijuana psychoactive properties. This new legislation is an enormous sea-change for farmers who have been prohibited from growing hemp due to laws erroneously suggesting that hemp was a drug.

Although anyone could smoke bushels of hemp and not get high, hemp is an extremely useful plant. Among hemp’s many uses are textiles, clothing, paper, building supplies, plastics, and chemical cleanup. Hemp can be used to replace less sustainable hardwoods. It is even a great alternative fuel source.

Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-Kihei), who wrote and introduced the bill along with 34 additional representatives, says:

“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.”

This could mean a whole new industry is opening up for Hawaii. The bill is being referred to as robust, and it stacks up to other industrial hemp bills which were modeled after those in Kentucky and Colorado. The bill will also help provide jobs on islands like Maui, that will no longer farm sugar.

Companies are already eager to utilize a new crop. Maui Brewing company, a popular beer maker in the islands is planning to introduce a hemp-based beer, and other companies will feature hemp-based products once HB 2555 goes into effect.

A University of Hawaii study also suggests that hemp would do well in Hawaii.

More than 4,200 people signed a Change.org petition to support industrial hemp on Maui.

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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