Hearing shows economic opportunity in PA hemp production

Lawmakers receive testimony demonstrating the promise of hemp production in PA

PHILADELPHIA, May 9 – With at least 25,000 unique, known uses, hemp has potential to be a thriving avenue for jobs and economic benefit in Pennsylvania’s agricultural sector. Lawmakers gathered today in Philadelphia for a hearing to understand of how best to build the capacity of Pennsylvania’s hemp industry while generating income opportunities for the state’s farms.

State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., hosted the House Democratic Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, and other members of the state House to hearing from local experts, growing professionals and others approved by the Department of Agriculture to study and grow hemp.

“Pennsylvania has a tremendous economic opportunity here in Pennsylvania and in Philadelphia specifically to benefit from responsibly grown hemp,” said Burgos. “I am grateful to those testifying today for sharing knowledge and expertise about the hemp industry with us.”

Lawmakers learned about the many different applications hemp has, including environmentally friendly building materials. For Judy Wicks, founder of All Together Now Pennsylvania, the promise of hemp is as a strong and durable material that is easy on the environment. She explained that it’s stronger than cotton, can replace insulation, has many food and consumer applications, can replace plastic, and has so many applications we’re still learning about. Hemp doesn’t require herbicides or pesticides and requires less water and fossil fuels to produce.

“Pennsylvania has one of the strongest agricultural industries in the nation and we have an opportunity to show leadership in hemp production as we have in other products,” said Rep. Mary Isaacson, D-Phila. “Hemp containing less than 0.05% THC has been legalized at the federal level so we need to make sure that we do what we need to so that growers have no issues setting up shop, opening bank accounts, running their business and adding to our economy.”

There are bill in the House like S.B. 1167 that would solve some of the banking and insurance issues some growers are facing. Other partners present such as DON Processing LLC, OCan Group, and Plant and People LLC shared that while they’ve had success, they need more acreage devoted to growing, improvements in the supply chain, and better regulations if hemp is to fulfill its promise advocates and experts believe it has.

Burgos added: “It’s clear that hemp has tremendous promise to boost our economy, bring jobs to our Commonwealth, and lift our communities. This is the second hearing about the promise that this industry could have for communities across the Commonwealth, showing that we are prepared to work in the legislature to make Pennsylvania a place where hemp business can thrive. Let’s get it done."

The hearing took place at The Lenfest Center in Philadelphia.

Information about this and other Pa. House Democratic Policy Committee hearings can be found at pahouse.com/policycommittee