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HB154 authorizes the state Board of Agriculture to establish a two-year industrial hemp phytoremediation project. Phytoremediation is the process by which cultivated hemp draws toxins out of the soil and processes them safely through its roots, stalk, leaves, and other plant parts.

The amended bill extends the scope of the project to include the viability of industrial hemp as a biofuel feedstock.

“Hemp is proven to be an excellent soil cleanser,” Representative Cynthia Thielen said. “Hemp cultivation could be greatly beneficial not only to Hawaii’s agricultural lands, but also in cleaning up soil contaminated by oil, solvents, pesticides, and other toxins.”

Thielen added, “The possibility of adding hemp to Hawaii’s biodiesel feedstock and reducing our reliance on imported fuel would make the study that much more valuable.”

HB154 was introduced by Thielen, Speaker Joseph Souki, Representative Derek Kawakami, Representative Sylvia Luke, and Representative Angus McKelvey.

Hawaii joins several other states in efforts to re-legalize the cultivation of hemp, which is used in the production of thousands of consumer items, from hemp-seed chips and cosmetics to clothing and building materials. Although hemp is not a drug and is legally farmed in Europe, Canada, and China, its cultivation in the U.S. was made illegal by drug laws targeting marijuana.

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