Honolulu – Today the Hawai‘i State Legislature passed the “Industrial Hemp Bill,” which establishes an agricultural hemp program that for the first time in Hawai‘i’s history, allows the crop’s cultivation and the distribution of its seed by multiple licensed local farmers.
Senate Bill 2659 passed with a unanimous vote in both Chambers. The Hawai‘i State Department of Agriculture will oversee the program including the licensing of farmers.
Once signed by the Governor, Hawai‘i will join more than 30 countries, and Kentucky, Colorado, Vermont, Tennessee and Oregon, all of which cultivate hemp. Hemp products are an estimated $620 million-a-year-and-growing retail business in the U.S., with much of it sourced from China and Canada.
The timing of the bill’s passage into law is significant as Maui’s sugar cane crops face demise in just weeks because it provides hundreds of the 700-plus otherwise unemployed sugar workers with a viable crop to farm on Alexander & Baldwin’s land with minimal loss of income and transition.
A longtime supporter of industrial hemp, Representative Cynthia Thielen has advocated for its entry into Hawai‘i for more than 20 years. Two decades later, the message resounds: Hemp has more than 25,000 uses and products; it has no power to get anyone high; and its byproducts like paper, clothing and low-cost hempcrete for construction create entrepreneurial growth.
“This not only saves jobs, but also creates jobs,” Thielen said. “This benefits our entire state, and supporters of the bill include and transcend all political parties.”