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

Lawmakers Push to Legalize Hemp; Farmers Unsure

Posted: Feb 13, 2018 3:52 PM Updated:

ANNAPOLIS, Md - Maryland Republican Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo of Montgomery County is pushing a bill this year that would legalize the production and sale of hemp.

He says, for Maryland, it's been long enough.

"We are missing the boat here and I've been saying this for years, so I'm hopeful that this year it'll go forward," Fraser-Hidalgo said.

It's a bill that's been years in the making. Fraser-Hidalgo has been pushing to bring hemp since 2015, hoping to get the quarter of a billion dollar industry to Maryland farms.

But it hasn't been so easy. According to chemist, Barry Pritchard, of SunX Corporation, hemp has often been grouped together with marijuana, earning itself a bad rep. Like Fraser-Hidalgo, Pritchard argues farmers could change that and cash in.

"It's a product that, for the farming community, could be a great boon just putting it into the simplest of terms," Pritchard said.

It's a great boon, especially in Annapolis. Earlier in February, Pritchard and other supporters gathered inside the Lowe House Building, talking hemp and it's uses - anything from clothing to food.

It's a topic big for many in Annapolis, but for some Eastern Shore farmers, there's still a ways to go.

"It's not like it's a hot topic of conversation right now," Greg Gannon of CH Gannon & Sons in Easton.

Gannon says Talbot County farmers have talked plenty about hemp before, but there's still not enough knowledge on how to grow it. And, he admits, there may not be a market quite ready yet for hemp.

That's all up to farmers, according to Eastern Shore lawmaker, Del. Carl Anderton.

"There may not be a market for industrial hemp, but if there is, they'll be able to take advantage of it. That's the whole point," Anderton said.

Anderton also says passing the hemp bill this year will be, in any case, a win for lawmakers and for farmers. A win that still needs more time, according to Gannon.

"That would be where it stands as of today, who knows what the future brings," Gannon said.

Right now, the federal government doesn't recognize hemp as a legal crop to grow and sell, but if the hemp bill is voted into law, Maryland would be the 20th state to legalize it.

 

 

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