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State exploring the value of hemp

By Staff | Jul 31, 2014

Gov. Neil Abercrombie this year signed an industrial hemp bill into law, paving the way for the University of Hawaii to grow a field of the plants on Hickam Air Force Base for research for two years.

With some 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, state lawmakers believe the crop can support Hawaii’s economy.

U.H. will report to state legislators on its research in 2016.

Advocates of industrial hemp on Maui hope this trial legislation will open the door for a new industry in our state.

Maui residents can learn about the hemp industry and surrounding issues at the Hemp is Hope Workshop on Aug. 9 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the University of Hawaii Maui College Multi-Purpose Room.

The U.S. is the world’s largest importer of hemp products, yet American farmers are still forbidden by our federal government to grow it.

According to the North American Industrial Hemp Council, “The hemp plant is harvested for its fibers, seed, seed meal and seed oil. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. Due to the similar leaf shape, hemp is frequently confused with marijuana. Although both plants are from the species cannabis, hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana. Hemp cannot be used as a drug because it produces virtually no THC (less than 1%), where marijuana produces between 5-20% THC.”

Workshop attendees will hear current efforts to legalize hemp across the country, the potential for a hemp industry on Maui and other Hawaiian islands, the benefits of hemp products and what stands in the way of producing them locally.

The thousands of products that can be made from hemp include healthy, organic food; strong, natural fiber; beauty and health products; clean-burning, sustainable fuel; and building materials that are impervious to termites and mold.

Workshop speakers include Doug Fine, author of “Hemp Bound,” who will share a cropping blueprint for farmers, processors, entrepreneurs and investors; Mike Bowman, who will discuss state and federal laws governing hemp; and Tim Callahan, who will speak on “Designing Hemp Homes and Carbon Sequestration.”

Matt Mead and Ty Mauri, cofounders of Hempitecture, will lead “Building with Hempcrete,” a brick-making workshop. Space is limited to 50 participants.

A $40 donation for admission includes lunch and presentations. The donation is tax-deductible, as it will go through the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance.

Limited business sponsorships are available. For more information, contact Kelly King at 283-1954 or Phyllis Robinson at phyllisr@ hawaii.edu or (808) 647-4066.

Many countries around the world recognize the value of industrial hemp and support its production. It’s a crop and opportunity worth exploring in Hawaii.