Pennsylvania was once the leader in the country in producing industrial hemp, which is used in producing a wide variety of products including building materials and paper.
There are businesses at the Farm Show this week selling products that have hemp in them.
Nick Perna runs Truly Pure & Natural out of Montgomery County. This is his first year as a vendor in Harrisburg. He says that his honey hemp has sold out twice.
“I have to educate some people who think the honey will give them a high feeling,” Perna said. “I tell them there is a big difference between hemp and marijuana.”
Perna says his product is a healthy alternative for people looking for something different.
“Hemp is an option that is high in fiber,” Perna said. “It is high in protein and has all the omega 3’s.”
The hemp research legislation bill’s primary sponsor is Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon).
Americans import hemp products because the federal 1937 Marijuana Tax Act restricted industrial hemp production and the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 declared hemp to be illegal because like marijuana it comes from the cannabis plant.
The 2014 Farm Bill loosened restrictions on the production of industrial hemp and authorizes pilot programs.
Diamond called the new law a boon to the state economy and a triumph over more than 80 years of misinformation about the plant. He said hemp is biologically similar to marijuana but does not contain intoxicating levels of THC, the psychoactive chemical that produces a “high.”