The Future of a Rising Industry: Pennsylvania Hemp Summit Highlights
A sold-out crowd attended the Pennsylvania Hemp Summit this past Tuesday in downtown Lancaster. A diverse set of attendees, including farmers, entrepreneurs and federal and state regulators, met over the day-long event to discuss the opportunities and challenges of hemp legalization. Here are some highlights from the event.
Booths, galore! Numerous advocacy groups set up booths throughout the convention center. Pictured here: Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture
The panel “Know Before You Grow: Your Checklist to Success” kicked off the event. Panelists covered everything a hemp farmer needs to know from seed to sale.
“It’s not a new crop; it’s just new to us. There is a lot of other baggage that comes along with this crop that we have got to work through in conjunction with also trying to help farmers figure it out.” – Alyssa Collins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Research Associate and Director at Penn State University Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center
“It’s an exciting place to be as a farmer right now. We have seen a lot of saturation in the market vegetable growing and pasture-raising…so we were kind of looking for another option.” –Ben Davies, Wild Fox Provisions
“It takes large scale hemp farming to bring bio-plastics to life: different composite materials, soil remediation on a large scale, CO2 absorption. This is all done by farming millions of acres of hemp and that can only be done on a large mechanized method.” – Ryan Dohm, Groff North America
“In Colorado, we have 13 varieties of certified seed that are available or will be becoming available. Seed certification is a process that takes many, many years to accomplish and so some of these varieties will be becoming available as time goes on. You can see that they are mostly for fiber, grain or dual-use. None for CBD at this point.” –Laura Pottorff, Colorado Department of Agriculture
Companies showed off practical-use, industrial hemp products such as home insulation.
Game-Changer: Hempcrete may be one of the most disruptive material technologies to come from the hemp industry.
One of the most popular panels of the day at Pennsylvania Hemp Summit, “The Future of Retailing Hemp Products,” featured lawyers who specialize in business and compliance for the hemp retail space.
“If a manufacturer of CBD products is putting on its label things like treats Alzheimer’s, cures cancer, will put you to sleep, fixes insomnia — anything that’s a health claim is really within the crosshairs of the FDA. The FDA can’t go after everybody and you see these products all over the place, so it’s picking and choosing.” –Seth Goldberg, Duane Morris Law Firm, Philadelphia
“If you pay attention in the next couple weeks to what Congress is doing, the FDA may be directed to move at a much faster pace..the FDA is saying one thing and CBD products are everywhere, so the status quo is not really acceptable to anybody right now.” –David Landau, Duane Morris Law Firm, Philadelphia
Pennsylvania-grown CBD Buds were one of the highlights of the event. The CBD Buds look identical to marijuana but contain less than 0.3% THC.
They even have individual strains for a variety of flavors to sample!
Companies selling CBD Flower are gearing up to bring their product to farmer’s markets nationwide.
Featuring federal regulators from Washington D.C., “Regulatory Landscape for 2020” was a controversial affair, with panelists touching on the big issues surrounding the CBD boom.
“We have quality, grading and inspection services. We have market news which keeps up-to-date data on most agricultural commodities. We provide research and promotion board oversight that use user-fee funds for research and promotion, and we have commodity purchasing programs which [sic] purchase commodities for school lunches and food banks. We hope the hemp industry, just like any other industry, can use these USDA services to create economic opportunities.” –Fiona Pexton, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
“We recognize this is an important crop to the American economy and we’re going to apply the best science available in making our regulatory decisions. We’re committed to strong engagement with all our stakeholders, our registrants, our chemical companies, the various federal parts of the agency governments and the states.” –Ed Messina, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The Pennsylvania Hemp Summit was a success. It connected key players in the hemp industry and started a dialogue between the private sector and government regulators. Still, attendees acknowledge that there is more work to be done.
As the demand for hemp-derived products grows, all parties, from government to business to agriculture, have a responsibility to balance innovation and safety in this rapidly-growing industry.
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