Maui Gets to Grow Industrial Hemp

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Hawaii’s governor has signed the Industrial Hemp Bill which establishes an industrial hemp pilot program through the Department of Agriculture allowing the cultivation of  hemp and distribution of hemp seed in Hawaii for purposes of agricultural or academic research.

Alexander and Baldwin Inc. (which owns massive acres of land) is considering planting hemp under its diversified agriculture model at its Maui plantation, when sugar production ends later this year.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who has been advocating the state’s use of hemp for the past 20 years, said that Hawaii can lead the nation in producing industrial hemp. “We can grow three crops a year and no other state can,” said Thielen.  “We are really ahead of the curve for producing this highly versatile plant.”

“Once we are assured the activity is legal, we stand ready to begin trial plantings,” said a spokesperson from A&B. “There is much to learn about the performance of hemp cultivation in our tropical climate.”

Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-Kihei) called the bill, “the most robust industrial hemp bill being considered this year.” The bill follows the model used in other states like Kentucky and Colorado, by supporting partnerships with the private sector to further explore industrial hemp’s potential contribution to the state’s economy.

The Maui Hemp Institute for Research and Development (MHIRD) has been set up to help promote and facilitate research and development for the growth of hemp and production of hemp related products through education, research and advocacy on Maui.

For many years Maui has served as a fertile environment for growing pot. Maybe soon we will view fields of hemp wafting in the the trade winds.

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Jon Woodhouse

Jon Woodhouse is the Managing Editor of The Maui Independent. Moving to Maui 36 years ago, he feels blessed daily to live here. He writes weekly for The Maui News and has worked for the Department of Education since 2001.

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