Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced that applications and guidelines for 2019 industrial hemp research permits are now available. Sixty research projects will be selected this year, the third year of the program’s operation. The projects will help determine opportunities for the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.
“Industrial hemp has a rich history in Pennsylvania, and presents a future opportunity for growers, processors, and other businesses that make a range of products across the commonwealth,” said Secretary Redding. “The first research projects conducted have shown exciting progress and possibilities for this reemerging crop. This research will help us reintroduce industrial hemp in Pennsylvania.”
The Department of Agriculture will select projects based on a complete program application and merit of the proposed research. Under the program, the department can issue research permits to institutions of higher education or to persons contracted with the department to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.
The deadline to apply for the 2019 PDA Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program is December 17, 2018. Applications will be reviewed and tentatively approved applicants will be notified by January 4, 2019.
Industrial hemp was grown in the United States, and in Pennsylvania, until after World War II, but became regulated along with marijuana and its cultivation was prohibited. Industrial hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant. Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp is grown mainly for fiber and seed and must maintain a concentration of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, below the 0.3 percent legal threshold.
“The 2014 Farm Bill represented the first step to bring industrial hemp back to Pennsylvania, and thanks to the combined efforts of Governor Wolf and the General Assembly, we were able to develop this research pilot program. It has enabled us to learn many important lessons over the past few years,” Redding added.
The Department of Agriculture maintains a DEA a general import registration to import industrial hemp seed into the commonwealth. Selected research candidates can work with the department’s registered importer to purchase international seed for their projects.