Rep. Ing on Industrial Hemp: “It’s Time Has Come”
Representatives Kaniela Ing (Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena) and Representative Cynthia Thielen (Kailua, Kāneʻohe Bay) are joining forces to introduce a measure that expands industrial hemp research, growth, cultivation and marketing activities in Hawaiʻi. Following the models used in other states, including Kentucky and Colorado, the bill supports partnerships with the private sector to further explore industrial hemp’s potential contribution to the state’s economy.
Alexander and Baldwin’s recent announcement that it will end sugar production at Maui’s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. will free about 36,000 acres of agriculturally zoned land at the end of 2016, prompting question over what crop would replace sugar.
“There is a huge groundswell of support from the general public and members of the agriculture sector to legalize industrial hemp,” said Rep. Ing in a press release statement. “While hemp is not a magic bullet for Hawaiʻi’s struggling agriculture industry, it does deserve our consideration, especially with the closing of sugar operations by HC&S.
“I believe industrial hemp now has bi-partisan support, as well as widespread support across generations. It’s time has come,” he said.
“With its ability to cleanse the soil of toxins, industrial hemp could be an environmentally friendly replacement for our agriculture industry,” says Representative Thielen, a longtime and enthusiastic supporter of legalizing industrial hemp.
“Hemp is often grown without pesticides or herbicides due to its natural ability to ward off unwanted insects and weeds. Furthermore, hemp’s potential as a biofuel feedstock could be a game-changer for Hawaiʻi. There are over 25,000 different uses for hemp and in US alone, the market for hemp seed oil and fiber is approximately $600 million a year.”
The measure has been cosigned by over 30 members in the House and a companion measure or similar industrial hemp measure is expected to be introduced on the Senate side by Senator Mike Gabbard.