Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hemp seed truck stopped

By Kevin Mertz

LIMESTONEVILLE — The planting of the area’s first industrial hemp seeds in more than a generation was postponed on Tuesday after the truck delivering the seeds was unable to cross into the United States from Canada.
Adam Thompson, co-owner of Pennsylvania Hemp, had scheduled a media event for Tuesday morning at Ziegler Farms in Limestone Township, Montour County. The event was canceled after the seeds were not delivered to the farm as anticipated.
As part of the approval process of transporting the seeds across the boarder, he said the Drug Enforcement Agency and Health Canada had to approve the shipment. It was then directed to cross into the United States at a certain crossing.
Thompson said the truck driver went to a different border crossing. As a result, the seeds were put in storage in Montreal.
Thompson expected the seeds to arrive this week, and tentatively scheduled another media event for Friday.
According to Thompson, the Ziegler family farm will grow five acres of hemp that will then be processed at Thompson’s mill, Penn’s Best Mill Company, in Montoursville.
The company will immediately place oil from the hemp into the its cooking oil products, which are sold at Wegmans.
The seed cake portion of the plant will go to a Lancaster-based company called Hempzels. That company, according to Thompson, makes hemp-based pretzels out of flower.
The door for hemp production in Pennsylvania was opened in 2015 when Thompson said Senate Bill 50, a hemp bill, was introduced.
House Bill 967 was soon introduced in the House of Representatives.
Thompson said hemp was not permitted to be planted or processed in Pennsylvania for over 80 years.
“There was an extensive amount of lobbying and education that went on in Harrisburg,” Thompson said. “Both (bills) passed unanimously. We have full support from our legislative body for hemp.”
The hemp bill was signed into law in July by Gov. Tom Wolf, Thompson said.
“From that point forward, the piece of legislation was passed off to the Department of Agriculture for them to craft the guidance in which this would exist under, the parameters under which research would take place,” Thompson said.
Pennsylvania Hemp is considered a research firm and Thompson said it must make regular reports to the Department of Agriculture outlining its findings.
The Ziegler farm is the only entity Pennsylvania Hemp is working with in growing the product.
“The Department of Agriculture put a cap on the amount of hemp to be grown, which is five acres,” Thompson explained.
He said there are multiple uses for hemp plants, including food, clothing, shelter and medicine.
“The food that comes out of (hemp plants) is a very nutritional seed,” Thompson said. “The oil that comes out of that... is very healthy.”
He said the oil from the plant can be used in paints. Clothing can also be made out of hemp, as well as building blocks.
“The USDA estimates that, in 1937, there were about 25,000 industrial uses for (hemp),” Thompson said.
He said there’s a common misconception that growing hemp plants is the same as growing marijuana.
“If I’m doing a demo in Wegmans and say ‘would you like to try hemp seed oil?’ they say ‘is this going to get me high?’” Thompson said.
“When we were lobbying, the majority of people we spoke with had no clue,” he continued. “People assume they’re related. That’s a misconception. It’s a big hurdle that we, as an industry, had to overcome. The general population still doesn’t understand what it is.”

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