BY MICHELLE VAN HESSEN – The State House of Representatives unanimously passed HB154 HD2, to establish an industrial hemp research pilot program, on the bill’s third reading, February 28, 2013. The bill now goes to the Senate for action. A primary focus of the research is phytoremediation, the process by which the hemp plant draws toxins out of the soil and processes them safely through its roots, stalk, branches, and leaves.
House lawmakers expanded the scope of the research to include industrial hemp’s value as a biofuel feedstock in Hawaii.
“People now understand how industrial hemp can benefit Hawaii,” said State Representative Cynthia Thielen (R, 50th District: Kailua, Kaneohe Bay), who cosponsored HB154. “The hemp plant itself uses phytoremediation to cleanse the soil of pesticides, heavy metals, oil, and other toxins.”
“Adding industrial hemp as a source of biofuel is another avenue worth pursuing,” Thielen said. “Reducing our dependence on foreign oil through the use of a renewable resource would be very good for Hawaii.”
The bill was introduced by Thielen, Speaker Joseph Souki, Representative Derek Kawakami, Representative Sylvia Luke, and Representative Angus McKelvey.
HB154 HD2’s companion legislation, HCR3 and HR6, which call on Congress and the President to remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, passed the Hawaii House of Representatives earlier in February.