Pa. appears to take lead in early stages of industrial hemp movement

Hemp products
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By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As Pennsylvania moves ahead with plans for the commercial production of industrial hemp, growers look forward to planting their first crops. 

Inside a greenhouse at Delaware Valley University in Bucks County, biology professor and entomologist Chris Tipping is showing Thomas Phillips several tall rows of industrial hemp he's been cultivating under a research pilot program.

Phillips owns more than a hundred acres of land and says he can't wait to plant his seeds.     

"Hopefully we're gonna get a head start next month growing some indoors in the greenhouse. And come May we'll put some in the ground," said Phillips. 

READ: Philly expected to play key role in state's plans for new hemp industry 

Phillips plan is to process hemp for CBD oil, but that's just for starters.

"We want to be able to process the whole plant, eventually. Not just for the CBD, but also for it's plastics, for its fibre, for its food," he said. 

Tipping's focus is on identifying pests that will be attracted to the plant. 

"I try to advocate for biocontrol as a way to manage your pests as opposed to using chemicals. Because the material that you're gonna be extracting from what you're growing needs to be pure," Tipping said. 

The recent passage of the federal farm bill opened the door for a nationwide hemp revival that is quickly taking root in Pennsylvania.

Shannon Powers of the state agriculture department says anyone can apply for a growing permit. 

"We have not denied permits at this point. The federal government requires us to check for drug felonies in the past ten years, but we've had no one who's had a permit denied," Powers said. 

Nearly 100 growers have already applied for permits.