Delaware lawmaker wants hemp research

 In this Oct. 5, 2013 photo, volunteers harvest hemp at a farm in Springfield, Colo. during the first known harvest of industrial hemp in the U.S. since the 1950s. America is one of hemp’s fastest-growing markets, with imports largely coming from China and Canada. Most of that is hemp seed and hemp oil, which finds its way into granola bars, soaps, lotions and even cooking oil. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)

In this Oct. 5, 2013 photo, volunteers harvest hemp at a farm in Springfield, Colo. during the first known harvest of industrial hemp in the U.S. since the 1950s. America is one of hemp’s fastest-growing markets, with imports largely coming from China and Canada. Most of that is hemp seed and hemp oil, which finds its way into granola bars, soaps, lotions and even cooking oil. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)

Delaware’s already legalized medical marijuana, now a Republican lawmaker wants hemp research legalized in the state.

The benefits of hemp have long been touted by marijuana advocates as a material for fabric, fuel, and even for water purification. But the connection between hemp and marijuana- they belong to the same genus (cannabis), has restricted its cultivation in the U.S. for decades.

State Representative Dave Wilson, a Republican who represents the Bridgeville area in Sussex County, wants to allow Delaware colleges, universities and the state Department of Agriculture to create pilot programs to study the “growth, cultivation, or marketing of industrial hemp.”

Pilot programs have been moving forward elsewhere in the nation. “Twelve states already have it. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in the state of Delaware,” Wilson said. “Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture is launching five hemp pilot projects each in partnership with the university.”

Wilson envisions hemp as a potential solution for mitigating the impact of chicken litter, a major issue for the poultry industry in the state. “That’s our main industry, so we definitely have chicken litter and I feel that would be a great product to use to clean that up.”

The 2014 Federal Farm Bill approved in February eased the restriction on hemp production. That legislation allowed states to set up industrial hemp pilot programs.

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