UH sets up industrial hemp research station

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Hawaii made hemp history Friday, joining only a handful of other states in the nation to do research on hemp, set in Waimanalo.

Lawmakers, farmers and University of Hawaii officials planted the first hemp seed at the UH Waimanalo Research Station. UH will study how industrialized hemp works as part of the 2014 farm bill, which legalizes industrial hemp production for research purposes.

“Both the stalk and the seeds are valuable products,” said UH professor Harry Ako, “so we want to find out how much water we need. We don’t want to import a plant that will just dry up our whole state of water.”

“Fuel, food and fiber is what we’ve always said,” Clarence Baber of the Hawaii Farmers Union United said. “The fuel is one aspect, fiber is housing, and food is a big thing for all of us.”

Congress still needs to legalize hemp for agricultural production. Supporters of hemp say the plant has more than 25,000 uses and assure that it’s not the same as marijuana.

“Hemp is an important crop which not only has proven a viable money maker in other countries, but offers so much potential for Hawaii’s struggling agricultural industry,” said State Representative Cynthia Thielen (Kailua-Kaneohe Bay), adding, “My hope is that this small Waimanalo research field will be the first step in providing our farmers with an exciting new crop which can be grown throughout our islands.”

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