Growing of industrial hemp is feasible on Maui

I write in response to a Feb. 16 letter questioning our ability to grow industrial hemp on Maui. I want to bring to light some information that, perhaps, the letter writer was not privy to.

In 1999, under a research permit, David P. West, Ph.D., headed the Hawai’i Industrial Hemp Research Project. He concluded, “In this project I was able to demonstrate that the genetic potential exists within the world’s hemp germplasm to create a variety of hemp capable of growing in a few months in a tropical environment a forest of 10 foot plants to provide fiber to any of a long list of industries. I had the plants; I showed it could be done.”

Industrial hemp has now been legally defined federally, unlike other strains of cannabis, as a nondrug. As of April 4, the Industrial Hemp Bill (SB 2175) has made its way through the Senate and House committee hearings with unanimous support.

U.S. hemp imports are estimated at over $500 million in annual retail sales and growing. Hemp supplies materials for surfboards, homes, food, and as a rotation crop to help cleanse the soil from toxins.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., with 36,000 acres on Maui, should soon have an opportunity to grow this important, beneficial and potentially profitable crop legally.

Denise Key