Lawmakers Push For Hemp Bill; Farmers Unsure - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Lawmakers Push For Hemp Bill; Farmers Unsure

Posted: Feb 02, 2018 6:20 PM Updated:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - In a room full of suits and ties, one green plant was the only thing talked about in Annapolis on Friday. 

Advocates, lawmakers and farmers met to talk hemp and possibly bringing it to Maryland.

State lawmakers like Democratic Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo want to legalize hemp and a new bill he's pushing would make growing and selling the plant legal.

A move he says that could bring the quarter of a billion dollar industry right to Maryland farms.

"The idea we could grow it here ourselves and make the money ourselves is good on so many levels, can't even begin," Fraser-Hidalgo said.

Sitting among the crowd at Friday's panel, people like Barry Pritchard of SunX Analytical in Cambridge says it could do a lot of good for farmers especially those on the Eastern Shore.

"A great boon just in the simplest terms," Pritchard said.

Pritchard also says, for years, hemp has been misunderstood; tainted by the reputation of a similar plant - marijuana.

But, he says, hemp can't get people high and instead be made into useful products - anything from food to clothing.

Eastern Shore farmers could cash in on that.

"We could get up to speed very quickly," Pritchard said.

But farmers themselves aren't so sure.

In a statement to WBOC, Greg Gannon, a Talbot County farmer and owner of CH Gannon & Sons Inc., says he isn't sure farmers have the expertise yet needed to growing hemp. And, even if they did, he questions whether there would be a market for farmers to profit from at all.

That's understandable, according to Eastern Shore Delegate Carl Anderton, but it's about baby steps.

"The market will dictate everything so there may not be a market for industrial hemp, but if there is, they'll be able to take advantage of it," Anderton said.

As of now, the U.S. government doesn't recognize hemp as a plant that can be freely grown and sold, but states passing legislation can change that.

If Maryland is able to pass the Hemp Bill this session, it would be the 20th state to do so.

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