Pa. approves 16 industrial hemp research projects

hemp
Hemp growing in a field.

The greater Lehigh Valley scored a handful of the first 16 industrial hemp research projects approved by the state Department of Agriculture.

Lehigh University researchers and the Berks County-based Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council will partner on three different projects, and the Rodale Institute in Maxatawny Township will evaluate potential benefits of industrial hemp both as a cash crop and as a tool for weed control and soil health.

GenCanna Global Inc.., a startup that previously participated in Kentucky's pilot program, will also grow hemp on a farm in Maxatawny Township in Berks County.

"I couldn't be more pleased that we are passing yet another auspicious point in the reintroduction of hemp," said Geoffrey Whaling, president of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council. "The wide range of projects speaks to the diversity and potential of the crop."

Industrial hemp is the strait-laced sibling of marijuana. Both come from the same fibrous plant, Cannabis sativa, but hemp has a negligible amount of the psychoactive substance that produces a high. Industrial hemp is a versatile crop, used to make rope, clothing, health food and beauty products among other items.

Legislators approved a bill promoting research last year. 

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