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Hawaii Legislature Considering Industrial Hemp Bill

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail, March 29, 2013 – A bill proposing to use industrial hemp to clean up contaminated soils is being considered by legislators in Hawaii. The two-year research program which would be run by the University of Hawaii at Manoa also would investigate developing industrial hemp as a biofuels feedstock.

Industrial hemp production in the U.S. remains blocked under federal drug laws which ban industrial hemp because it is related to marijuana. If the bill is passed, Hawaii will join nearly a dozen other states currently seeking federal approval for growing industrial hemp.

The legislation has been approved in Hawaii’s House and by two Senate committees. It went to the Senate Ways & Means committee March 26 to prepare for consideration by the full Senate.

The industrial hemp bill, H.B. 154 H.D. 2 S.D. 1, points out that industrial hemp is “a superior phytoremediator because it grows quickly and can extract toxins without the need to remove any of the contaminated topsoil. Other factors that make hemp a superior phytoremediator are its ability to grow unaffected by the toxins it accumulates, its fast rate of absorption, and its ability to bind compound contaminants from the air and the soil.”

The bill adds that “A factor that makes the State a particularly compelling candidate for hemp-based phytoremediation is that the State’s extensive agricultural operations in the past have left toxins in vast tracts of land. Phytoremediation will remove those toxins. The legislature also finds that industrial hemp is an environmentally friendly and efficient feedstock for biofuel.” 

Calling industrial hemp “an environmentally friendly and efficient feedstock for biofuel,” the bill states that “Biodiesel plants already in existence in the State are capable of meeting eight percent of the State’s biodiesel needs for ground transportation. These biodiesel plants could increase their efficiency by utilizing industrial hemp as a feedstock, thus reducing the State’s reliance on imported fuel.”

If Hawaii secures federal approval for the industrial hemp pilot program, University researchers would report results for both soil decontamination and biofuels development by 2015.

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