Hemp, a non-psychotropic cousin of marijuana, could be growing in Pennsylvania again as soon as next year.
The state Department of Agriculture released application materials Thursday for a pilot program that would research how to cultivate the plant. Hemp was once a major cash crop used to make rope and other fabrics prior to being outlawed in 1937 alongside marijuana.
“Industrial hemp certainly is not a new crop, but we believe it has the potential to become a very attractive part of Pennsylvania’s future,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said, in a written statement.
Hemp’s return was precipitated by the 2014 federal farm bill, which opened the door for states to reauthorize hemp farming. Legislation signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in July created the state’s pilot program.
Under the guidelines released Thursday, the state will approve up to 30 projects associated with institutions of higher education. The plants, which are grown for their fiber and seeds, must have a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) below the legal threshold of 0.3 percent.
The deadline for applications is Jan. 6, 2017, with approvals expected by Feb. 17.
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