Work began Thursday to harvest the first crop from the University of Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Research Project.
The field is located in Waimanalo and housed three varieties of industrial hemp: temperate zone hemp, tropical seed hemp, and tropical fiber hemp.
Initial findings from the project indicate that the tropical fiber hemp is flourishing and has grown over 10 feet tall during its crop cycle of 15 weeks. The tropical seed hemp is much shorter, but is heavily producing seed.
Meanwhile, the temperate zone hemp flowered and died after eight weeks.
Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R, Kailua, Kaneohe Bay, who helped lead the hemp farming movement in Hawaii, said it’s been a challenge to ease the state’s restrictions on hemp growing.
“Hemp is not a drug. Hemp is an agricultural crop that will keep our (agricultural) land and active production, provide a product for entrepreneurs,” she said. “We’ll be able to build our houses out of hemp, create and not import those materials.”
The project was made possible by Hawaii’s Act 56 which allowed industrial hemp to be grown as a state or university research initiative.
Unlike marijuana, hemp has a very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, which is the active component that can make people feel “high.”
Experts say today’s U.S. market for hemp seed oil and fiber is approximately $600 million a year.