Author: PAHIC (Page 1 of 4)

Editorial: Fighting Injustice for Hemp in Lehigh County


The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and all parts of the plant, welcoming a new commodity crop to our landscape.  It removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, period.  This action was taken by Congress, signed into law by the President and 47 States have adopted hemp legislation, including PA.  Yet that means little to nothing at the all to the bombastic Lehigh County District Attorney and his equally ignorant deputy Scheetz.

Case in point is Lehigh County vs Grossman.  Mr. Grossman Sr. and his son saw, like so many, the opportunity that hemp could provide them.  They saw the proliferation of hemp derived CBD at very corner store and decided upon opening a distribution company in the County. They did their homework and saw that they could open a business without any special permit and could legally bring hemp from anywhere in PA or other States. They found that PA only requires a farmer to secure a permit. Yet when Grossman Sr. was pulled over by an unknowing officer for a traffic violation, and that officer spotted what looked like packages of marijuana, that gave reasonable cause to investigate further.  Although each package was labelled as hemp and every item included a QR code which provides seed to sale information, Lehigh has no road side test to identify the difference between hemp and its sister crop, marijuana.  Even the drug  dogs cannot tell the difference between hemp and MJ – it is one of the unforeseen consequences of the new legislation – which will require new dogs to be trained differently.

It resulted in both Grossmans being charged by an aggressive District Attorney and Grossman Sr. sat in Lehigh County prison for two months. Many appeals and approaches were made to District Attorney Martin, by the State and our industry, to no avail His refusal to accept the federal and state law and, more importantly, the intentions of all law makers who passed the legislation to build a hemp industry for the benefit of farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers were of no interest to him.  Mr. Grossman and his son were, according to Martin, nothing but “drug dealers”.  Martin was confident in his legal theory because he did not accept that the federal removal of hemp from the CSA was sufficient because he saw that PA had not removed to “up to 0.3 THC” from within its hemp legislation and narrow oversight. The legislature gave Martin a window to drag the Grossman’s through a nightmare that has cost them more than $25,000 in legal fees, let alone damage to their reputation and loss of opportunity.

Yet District Attorney Martin did not realize that his actions , based on the error of his thinking and insistence of interpreting the law to benefit his argument keep what he claimed was a drug dealer in jail,  not only turned the Grossman’s family upside down, it impacted almost every farmer, retailer and consumer in neighboring Counties and across PA. They read of Martin’s dogged pursuit of jail time and a criminal record for the Grossmans as a very big reason to stay away from hemp.

Yet as the case came closer to Judge Robert Steinburg’s Court this week, and that the Judge expressed interest in knowing more, the District Attorney’s Office undertook a strategy to resolve the case before the Judge could hear more evidence, rule and create a precedence.

We’ve seen this game before.  It’s been played out by the DEA, until the Farm Bill removed hemp from the CSA ending their jurisdiction.  Our government makes false charges, a court case ensues and, before anything can be put on the record, a settlement is proposed, charges are dropped.  Yet that is not justice, it’s an abuse of taxpayer funds to pursue matters of an ignorant elected District Attorney and his team. 

We warn every Lehigh County farmer, owner and employee of a corner store, health food store, gas station and even those participating in farmer’s markets in Lehigh County, as well as every Lehigh County consumer, that they too could become a victim of this rouge and misguided pursuit by Martin and his crew of white knights.

Don’t ever try to reason with Jim Martin.  He knows more apparently about the 2018 Farm Bill and the Hemp Farming Act contained within it than the advocates that fought for it and the legislators that wrote and passed it.  It must be because he sits in an ivory tower of power.  Challenge his thinking and he uses his bellowing voice and human massiveness in an attempt to intimidate and bully. He will quickly tell you he has no boss, that Harrisburg has no authority over him and that only the taxpayers of Lehigh is who he is accountable to.   And if that does not work, he will threaten to have you bodily removed from his office (the very one funded by County taxpayers).

Investors and farmers should stay clear of Lehigh County.  The millions of dollars that are flooding into this market are not welcomed in Lehigh.  DA Martin should never again be provided with another opportunity to hold our legal new industry at ransom.

~Geoff Whaling – President, Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council, Chair, National Hemp Association

Today is the Day!!

It’s the dawning of a new day for the hemp industry!
Today the 2018 Farm Bill gets Signed into Law!
Note from President, Geoff Whaling  

Very early today, I received a phone call from the White House confirming that President Trump would be signing the Farm Bill, which contains the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 language, at a WH ceremony at 2:30 today. I was thrilled to hear the news, sorry that I would not be able to be there in person and then took a moment to reflect on the path that brings us all to this, most important and historical day. Congratulations All!

I reflected on how far we have come and those that I have met along the way. My path started some 5 years ago after seeing, like so many others the plight of Paige Figi, mother of Charlotte. It was Charlotte’s story and the challenges that those producing her “Marijuana Oil” – for use with dab rigs, dab pens with a dab pen battery, some even use the oil in their joints, which I was sure came from hemp, that motivated me to become more involved in advancing this crop, something I had a small role in advancing in my homeland.    Since then, as a full time volunteer, I’ve met thousands of Americans, all who shared a common goal – let’s rekindle this crop!

I worked first in PA with hemp historian Les Stark and Erica McBride (now Erica Stark). Les has worked for 20 years towards this very day. Together we organized the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council, passed legislation in our Commonwealth and then helped Delaware and New York. 

I started speaking on panels, attending conferences and hearing from athletes whose own stories would make grown men cry. I heard from farmers across the country that were desperate and needed every helping hand to save the family farm.    State legislators invited us to appear, Members of Congress wanted our participation. 

That somehow put us on the national radar and shortly thereafter, I joined the Board of the National Hemp Association. Within a short timeframe I was asked to Chair the organization and I have worked everyday to build awareness of our membership and important issues and reconfigured the organization to have a permanent office in Washington so that we could work alongside all the major stakeholder groups that could influence and help us pass federal legislation.

Although many of our meetings with the DEA, DOJ, USDA and the White House were frustrating, the support from every non government organization – national farm organizations, the Council on Government Relations and the National Association of Secretaries Departments of Agriculture gave us support and encouragement to fight the good fight. 

Not everything we have done has worked out as planned. Some alliances have fallen short, others were self serving and not worth the energy. Yet at the end of this day, none of that will matter anymore.  

Tomorrow begins another Chapter in the rebirth of hemp in our nation. We will soon be part of a major announcement that, in our opinion, will provide the much needed solution to ensure this crop and industry will have a solid foundation to grow and that will invest millions into research.  We will also have to figure out how State programs will merge into the new law, work with Federal agencies that will no doubt know nothing about the new law, while also continuing our work to ensure that all who want to be in this space have the tools that this 2018 Farm Bill provides our crop.  

Could there be any better way for everyone who has worked so long and hard to see this day? Could there be any better gift for this holiday season?  

Let’s Celebrate!

Happy, Hempy Holidays!!

Hemp Hits the Ground Running in 2018

PA Farm Show

The beginning of January PAHIC was proud to showcase Hemp at the 102nd PA Farm Show! Thanks to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture the industry was provided a 50′ space to show farmers and the public examples of all the amazing things hemp can do as a form of alternative medicine, its nutritional value, and various other potential health benefits. We also took the opportunity to encourage participation in the 2018 Industrial Hemp Program. Not only did we get to talk to thousands of people we also reached many thousands more with great press reports:

Lancaster Online

Trib Live

Morning Call

Lancaster Online Farm Show Message

Morning Call Opening Day

CBS 21 Farm Show

Many elected officials visited us

Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, PAHIC President Geoff Whaling, Governor Tom Wolf, PAHIC Exec Dir, Erica McBride and PAHIC Board Member, Les Stark

PAHIC Board Member, Les Stark, Exec Dir, Erica McBride, State Senator Judy Schwank, PAHIC President, Geoff Whaling, Chief of Staff, Bill Evans

PAHIC Exec Dir, Erica McBride, State Representative, Russ Diamond, PAHIC Board Member, Les Stark

PAHIC Exec Dir, Erica McBride, Minority Ag Committee Exec Dir, Desitny Zeiders, State Representative Eddie Pashinski, PAHIC Board Member, Les Stark

PAHIC Exec DIr, Erica McBride, Representative Rich Irvin, PAHIC Board Member, Les Stark

Check out our series of Facebook Live Videos

Tour of booth

Oil seed press demonstration

Hempcrete Workshop Announcement

Day two announcements and updates

Hempcrete Workshop

Short clip Hempcrete Workshop, mixing

CBS21 News Anchor Michael Gorsegner, Facebook Live 13 minute segment

Les Stark speech, 10 minutes

Riley Cote Speech, 6 minutes

Erica McBride speech, 25 minute

2018 Hemp Program

Friday January 19th was the deadline to apply for the 2018 Industrial Hemp Program. The 2018 program is greatly improved over last year! This year permit holders will be able to grow up to 100 acres and new to this year CBD and other extractions are allowed, such as those you can find online: click here for examples. Institutional applicants are allowed unlimited acreage.

We spent all the previous week trying to help people with their applications and seed sourcing. High CBD seed sourcing has been problematic as we are still not allowed to get seed from other states and we were unable to locate international sources willing to export to the US. There still may be some people who prefer to buy their CBD products, such as CBD oil from a shop or from an online realtor. But we are still committed to our journey of finding CBD seeds to grow on our acreage. Hopefully, we will be able to produce products like CBD oil where the cost per mg isn’t too excessive, to enable it be accessed by more people, particularly those who rely on it to manage their anxiety, and other medical conditions.

We had hoped that we would be able to have a few farmers be able to participate under our permit as we work to develop the National Industrial Hemp Center of Excellence However time restraints and logistics made that impossible for us to pull off this year. Fortunately several farmers were willing to individually apply to run some varietal trials for the fiber varieties we will need to supply the CoE.

We hope to get 1000 acres in the ground this year to get the nation’s first full commercial scale decortication machinery (for fiber production) up and running. It will then be our intention to expand that to around 8000 acres at which time we would contract PA farmers to grow the crop.

Already there has been interest from PA manufacturers to start incorporating hemp into their processes and we anticipate many more once a reliable supply chain is established.

Exciting things to come!

We anxiously await finding out how many permits were submitted and will be approved. We believe that the department will get close to the goal of having all 50 permits allocated. No matter what we will see a huge increase in the number of permits and acreage over last years approximately 60 acres with the potential of there being literally thousands of acres of emerald hemp fields gracing the Pennsylvania landscape!

2017 was an historic year for hemp in Pennsylvania!

2017 was the busiest and most amazing year we have ever had! It was intense. It was profound. In some ways we fulfilled lifelong dreams and changed the landscape, both political and physical forever.

The PAHIC board consists of President, Geoff Whaling, Executive Director, Erica McBride and board members Les Stark, Riley Cote and Adam Thompson. Below is a recap of the work we’ve undertaken on behalf of our membership. All of our efforts depend on the support of our valued members. If you are not already a member please join today! I’d also recommend a quick look at Pure Green Living ( They have a great range of CBD and hemp related gear! There are so many different products that you can get now though that involve hemp. For example, you might find that using something like this hemp lip gloss is the way forward. But it’s to you to find what works best for you.

Join us for a trip down memory lane.

January 6 we went to the Pennsylvania State Department of Agriculture building in Harrisburg to put in our permit applications to become a part of the first legal wave of hemp farmers in over 80 years. Other countries are much further ahead when it comes to such things – a dispensary toronto is not an uncommon sight, as one example. Still, it was exciting but nowhere near the excitement that was yet to come.

January 10 we started off the year with a press conference at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show in Harrisburg with Representative Eric Nelson of Westmoreland County. Nelson is a strong supporter of hemp and developing the hemp industry in the western part of the state. Here is a short slide show of the event.

January 30 we met with Governor Wolf’s Chief Policy Advisor Secretary Gallbally. We pressed our message to the governor that Pennsylvania had to put forth a bolder vision for the hemp program. We impressed upon the administration the great importance this industry could have to the state.

February 4 We travelled to Penn State for the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). We gave a presentation about the Pennsylvania hemp program for 2017. Interest was strong and her lecture was well attended.

February 8 we met with Pa. Secretary of Agriculture and other representatives of the PDA to discuss our concerns with the hemp program. Specifically, we wanted to end the five acre cap and we wanted the ability to get seeds from Kentucky instead of being forced to get seeds from Canada.

On February 27 and 28 was a Washington D.C. event called Hemp on the Hill. It was a two day lobbying event for industrial hemp. We set up a table in the Rayburn building along with hemp organizations from around the country and we were joined by host Congressman Jared Polis and Co-hosts Congressman Earl Blumenauer, congressman Thomas Massie, & Congressman James Comer with Honorary Co-host Senator Ron Wyden.

We broke up into teams and collectively visited with many members of congress. The goal was to advance federal hemp legislation that will blow open full commercial production of hemp nationwide. Among the meetings we attended was with Congressman G.T. Thompson, who we later successfully persuaded to sign on as a cosponsor to HR3530.

Another successful meeting was with our Congressman from Berks County Ryan Costello. He also signed on as a cosponsor to HR3530. On the 28th we met the sponsor of HR3530, James Comer of Kentucky.

April 21 to April 22 we headed out to Pittsburgh for a two day event called the World Medical Cannabis Conference where we were asked lots of marijuana questions. We had a booth where we again told everyone about the Pa. hemp program and educated about hemp. While there Erica participated in two panel discussions, hosting one and speaking on another. She spoke on “Industrial Hemp and the Opportunities Beyond CBD” and hosted on “Ag Tech and Sustainability”.

May 31 was certainly a day to remember. We went to Harrisburg to pick up 670 pounds of hempseed, enough to plant 15 acres of hemp for our approved trials. Of all the memorable moments of this year, this in some ways was the best. It was the first time that the whole thing felt real. Here is the photo album of that day.

June 1 we made history! We planted five acres of hemp in the Lehigh Valley! Although a few ceremonial seeds were planted by our friends in Montour County and some seeds got into the ground in Mifflin the day before, ours was the first entire field of hemp legally planted in Pennsylvania in perhaps 80 years! Its impossible to describe the feeling of dumping those bags into the seeder and letting them run through my fingers and getting to put those seeds in the ground. Check out the pictures of our planting

June 3 we planted a few more acres of hemp at Pinchot State Forest just outside of Wilkes Barre. The site was on an abandoned anthracite mine and the goal was soil remediation/land reclamation. If we can make it successful there we may have the opportunity to remediate many thousands of acres of similarly damaged land in the state! We had a lot of volunteers to help us. Here are photos of the day.

June 8 One week after planting, we check our field in Lehigh and to our happy surprise the hemp was sprouting! It was a thrill to see the little baby hemp plants populating the five acre field. Here are pictures of the first batch of hemp sprouting in the state.

June 10 we held an event called the Hemp History Day and Celebration. We were joined by State Senators Judy Schwank and Mike Folmer, Representative Russ Diamond, Pa. Secretary of Agriculture Russ Redding and other members of the PDA and many others. We had live music and events, a hempcrete workshop, hempseed oil pressing and other hemp businesses represented and we led a group to visit our field to see the young sprouting hemp.

June 12 we checked out the project in Pinchot State Forest and were thrilled to see hemp sprouting throughout the field. To learn about this important project click on this link to see the photos and a description of what we are attempting to do there.

June 15 was the two week anniversary of our first hemp planting so we stopped by the field in Lehigh to check out their progress. It was thrilling to see them growing.

June 21 we checked the plants in Pinchot and were disappointed with the results though were impressed with the stubborn plants still hanging in there

June 22 we attended the PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference. The theme of the conference was “The Future of Reclamation in PA”. We gave a power point presentation about the hemp project we are doing in the nearby Pinchot State Forest on the site of an abandoned anthracite mine.

The same day on June 22 we checked the Lehigh field to see their progress at 3 weeks

June 25 we did a second planting with volunteers at the site at Pinchot State Forest.

June 28 we went to Washington D.C. to meet with United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to discuss official department policy concerning federal hemp regulations.

July 2 We visited both fields. The field in Pinchot and the field in Lehigh where we found our prediction of “knee high by July” to be true.

July 10 we visited the hemp field in Lehigh and installed bee hives to help pollinate the hemp and to make succulent honey.

July 15 we visited the site at Pinchot State Forest to dig up soil samples to be used in experimental growing over the winter to find what works and what doesn’t.

July 16 we visited the field in Lehigh to find plants up to seven feet tall!

Check out the updates from July 23, July 30 and August 2 when the plants were 10 ft. tall.

August 4 We set up a stand at the Hemp Heals Festival in Philadelphia at Festival Pier. We made a speech from the main stage in front of about 6,000 people. We took with us a 10 ft. stalk from our Lehigh hemp field.

August 12 we visited our friend’s five acre hemp crop in Perry County grown by the Perry County Land and Cattle Company.

August 15 was Ag Progress Days at Penn State. We gave a one hour lecture and powerpoint presentation about the history of hemp in Pennsylvania and a one hour presentation on our current hemp projects.

While we were there we checked out the hemp crops being grown by researchers at Penn State

August 25 we were there for another historic day! We witnessed the first legal hemp harvest in Pennsylvania done by the Rodale Institute in Berks County!

September 1 was another historic day as we watched our friends in Montour County harvest their hemp along with the Pa. Secretary of Agriculture along with other members of the PDA and state reps.

September 2 – Finally it was OUR historic day – the harvest of our hemp crop in Lehigh! It was a thrilling day.

September 12 and September 13 we spent two days in Washington D.C. We met with members of the PA delegation to persuade them to sign on as a cosponsor to HR3530, the federal hemp legislation. We also met with members of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and NIFA to discuss the creation of the National Industrial Hemp Center of Excellence right here in PA!

September 16 we were thrilled to have the opportunity to set up in the Homegrown Village at Farm Aid this year. We teamed up with othe National Hemp Association, Limeworks and Hemp Heals Foundation. It’s always a wonderful thing to have such an opportunity to educate not only the general public but also farmers. Our friends at Limeworks conducted a full, hands on hempcrete workshop.

October 13 we helped set up a stand for Jefferson University at the DVIRC Greater Manufacturing Summit. We let the manufacturing community know all about the exciting opportunities with industrial hemp.

October 24 We attended the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture stakeholders meeting. There, all of hemp farmers participating in the first year of trials gathered to share our experiences and discuss how we can do better in year two. We made recommendation for how the PDA could improve the program for 2018.

October 25 We went to DC to have a meeting with top DEA officials to discuss the Hemp Statement of Principals and the impact is it having on states implementing their hemp programs.

November 27 We attended a fundraiser for Kentucky Congressman James Comer in Philadelphia. Comer is the prime sponsor of federal hemp legislation, HR3530.

December 10 to 15 We put together a delegation and travelled to Holland and Germany to witness the processing of hemp and meet with parties who are interested the creation of the National Industrial Hemp Center of Excellence in the Lehigh Valley.

All of our efforts depend on the support of our valued members. If you are not already a member please join today!

We had a tremendous year in 2017. We brought back hemp to the fields of Pennsylvania and successfully influenced the expansion of the Pennsylvania hemp program for 2018, got cosponsors for federal hemp legislation and laid the foundation for a great hemp industry in the state!

2018 will be an exciting year for Hemp in Pennsylvania!

2018 PA Hemp Program Released

What a difference a year makes! While last year we were disappointed in the limited scope of the hemp program, this year we are thrilled. While we were hoping the program would have been released a little sooner, giving more time to apply, this new program was worth waiting for. Pennsylvania could go from around 50 acres planted in 2017 to literally thousands of acres in 2018! This will greatly increase the ability and capacity to produce plants for the manufacturing and processing of the various Private Label Supplements that you can see on sale in the medical marijuana market across the USA. Due to CBD research and extraction now being permitted, you’ll more than likely find many of these acres will soon be CBD dominant plants for the production of medical marijuana items such as these wholesale cbd gummies and other CBD infused products. Should cannabis be legalized in PA in the future, you’ll be able to pick up even more products and explore strains like those on sale at this colorado dispensary.

Throughout the 2017 season the PA Department of Agriculture (PDA) was engaged, supportive and cooperative. After the 2017 harvest, PDA hosted a round table for enthusiastic participants to share their experiences. By all accounts the first year trials were an overwhelming success. Even if you’re not in the Pennsylvania area, you can still get bulk CBD shipped to you so you’re not missing out. We were also given an opportunity to express our frustration with the limits of the program. PDA listened and have now delivered us a greatly expanded program for 2018 that we can all be proud of.

For 2018

  • Fees have been reduced
  • Number of permits increased from 30 to 50
  • 5 acre maximum has been increased to 100 acres
  • Open acreage available to institutions applicants
  • CBD and extraction research is now permitted

Full details of the program here.

PAHIC members are welcome to contact us for help or advice in completing their applications.

Deadline to apply is 4:00pm on January 19, 2018.

National Industrial Hemp Center of Excellence

The Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council is working towards the creation of a National Center of Excellence for hemp research in Pennsylvania. This will be located in an existing facility in the greater Lehigh Valley. As part of the center we a looking to install a commercial scale decortication plant to begin the research of the supply chain needed to build the industrial hemp industry both here in PA and nationwide. In order to fulfill the needs of a plant this size we will need upwards of 3000 acres to be grown in 2018.

We have a small window of time before the January 19, 2018 deadline to apply. To be prepared we are asking those of you that would like to plant hemp this spring as part of this initiative to email us at to express your interest.

You would be contracted through the center of excellence and be planting under our permit. We will provide the seed and guidance for the planting and harvesting.

If interested, please include the following information:

  • Your Name
  • Name of your Farm
  • Your Contact Information
  • Number of traditional acres available
  • Number of organic acres available
  • County where you farm is located

Your response is an expression of interest and is not a formal commitment but please only respond if you are seriously interested in participating.

Hemp to be Featured at PA Farm Show

PDA has provided the Hemp Industry a large space at the 2018 PA Farm Show! This will be the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show which runs from
January 6-13, 2018.

Our display will feature the Past, Present and Future of Hemp. Some of the fascinating items on display will be hemp mill stones, a hemp brake, seed press, a BMW, live plants and much more!

We will be in the Main Hall – Booth 651-655 – Come visit us and get to KNOW Hemp!!

Industrial Hemp to take Center Stage At PA’s AG Progress Days 2017

From zero to hero in one short year” are the words that attendees to this year’s AG Progress Days will hear from the stage about the excitement building around Pennsylvania’s Industrial Hemp Crop. The Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council will provide 4 speakers during the largest outdoor agricultural exposition held in the research fields of Penn State University, Furnace PA.

“We are only in the research phase of reviving Industrial hemp to the farmlands of PA and already there is a daily line up of farmers and manufacturers looking to learn more about the opportunities this crop will provide” said Erica McBride Secretary Treasurer of PAHIC and one of the presenters speaking Exploring Hemps Potential in Pennsylvania on Tuesday August 16, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. at the PA Department of Agriculture Building at AG Progress Days.

Earlier this year, PA Agriculture Secretary Redding announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture had approved 16 research proposals that seek to demonstrate the value and viability of industrial hemp cultivation in the state. The projects were approved under the new Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, which the department launched in December after Governor Tom Wolf and the General Assembly enacted Act 92 of 2016.

“Industrial hemp has a long history in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania, but it has been missing from the landscape since the mid-20th century,” explained Redding. “As a result, we have missed out on many economic opportunities. Thanks to the federal Farm Bill, Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly, though, we now have the chance to re-establish this promising plant in Pennsylvania, which we believe could offer farmers tremendous new opportunities down the road. The first step in realizing those opportunities, however, is to demonstrate the viability and the potential of the plant through these research projects. Today marks an exciting milestone.”

Throughout the 3-day event, participants at Ag Progress Days will also be able to tour a hemp field. This tour will showcase Penn State’s first industrial hemp project in more than 60 years. They will discuss some of the crop management issues to consider in hemp production and see some trials that evaluate several varieties of hemp being grown for seed. Participants will also be able to evaluate some hemp produced with no-tillage and also look at the impacts of seeding rates, planting dates and fertilizer rates on commercial hemp production. Attendees will also get an update on potential markets for the crop.

PAHIC Board Member, Author and Hemp Historian Les Stark will be “Exploring Hemp’s Past in Pennsylvania” on August 15, 2017, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM and will speak to the rich history that the Industrial Hemp crop has played in the establishment and building of the Commonwealth including how the crop helped new settlers to Hellertown, Bethlehem and Hempfield establish their communities.

PAHIC Board Member and Pennsylvania Hemp Company President, Adam Thomson will speak August 16, 2017, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM about Growing and Processing Industrial Hemp and present a live hemp pressing demonstration. Later that day at 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM PAHIC Member Martha Roberts will speak on Industrial Hemp: An Opportunity for Rural Pennsylvania.

“The United States is largest importer of Hemp products in the world and the only importing nation not to grow the crop”, said Geoff Whaling PAHIC President. “We import $500 Million+ in hemp products from Canada alone. Those jobs and those opportunities for farmers need to be in Pennsylvania.”

Today, Industrial Hemp fiber is being used to build composite auto parts, flooring, cabinets, fashionable textiles and biofuels. Hemp seeds, which are 100% digestible protein and having as much Omega 3,6, and 9 as fish oil, are being used for consumer products and animal feed. Hemp oils are used for cosmetics, lotions, dietary supplements, fuel and salad dressings. Many new processes are being utilized by companies similar to this hemp extraction company, to utilize the plant and curate products with all its potent effects that promote healthy living. Hemp Hurd (the inner core of the crop) is used for building material, animal bedding and landscape mulch. There are literally thousands of uses for hemp and it’s a rare crop in that all parts of the plant are useful.

Ag Progress Days (APD), Pennsylvania’s largest outdoor agricultural exposition to be held August 15-17, 2017. The show is held annually, for three days in August, at The Pennsylvania State University’s Research Farms.

Geoff Whaling – 610-554-6929 –
Erica McBride – 610-468-2311 –

Working Relationship Between USDA and the Hemp Industry Reaffirmed

PAHIC President and NHA Board Chairman Geoff Whaling met with senior USDA staff on June 28th, with the encouragement of Agricultural Secretary Perdue. Mr. Whaling initiated the meeting along with Erica McBride of the Pennsylvania Industrial Hemp Council. This was the first meeting Secretary Perdue and his team have afforded the Industrial Hemp Industry.

Meeting attendees, along with Whaling and McBride, were Jonathan Miller representing the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, as well as representatives from Senator Merkley and Representative Comer’s offices. Representing Secretary Perdue were Chief of Staff, Heidi Green, Acting General Counsel, Steve Vaden, and Michele Esch, Acting Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary for Research along with senior USDA Policy staff. The meeting reaffirmed critical elements of the working relationship the hemp industry has established with the USDA since the enactment of Sec. 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Under the new administration, the USDA will continue to treat all parts of the hemp plant as being covered under the current Farm Bill and will not attempt to delineate parts of the hemp plant as practiced by the DEA. The USDA will continue to support the hemp pilot projects permitted under Sec. 7606, and continue to welcome grant and loan applications as well as all other applicable funding opportunities offered by the USDA and NIFA. “All hemp industry participants are encouraged to participate in these funding opportunities” stated Whaling. “The USDA confirmed that 9 Industrial Hemp funding requests to NIFA are being processed and that the USDA has encouraged those who submitted previous requests to resubmit them.”

While the USDA does intend to fully support hemp under the existing regulatory environment, it too welcomes the opportunity to engage with the DEA in differences over legal and regulatory interpretation – a stance that should prove helpful in moving forward with the introduction of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act.

“The USDA also offered to provide a quick response to any Secretary or Commissioner of Agriculture who is looking for clarification on either the Farm Bill or SOP, which may be preventing the States that have enacted enabling Industrial Hemp legislation from advancing research,” said Whaling. “This is a welcome change over the previous administration.”

Corresponding with the USDA meeting, Whaling had the occasion to update Representative James Comer and Senator Bob Casey, a Member of the US Senate Agricultural Committee.

In addition hemp leaders from throughout the US were invited to a legislative update regarding the status of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act and its introduction to Congress during the current session. Jonathan Miller hosted the conference call with Kentucky Congressman James Comer who is the lead sponsor of the bill and who has been a tireless advocate of hemp as a de-scheduled agricultural crop.

Congressman Comer hopes to have the bill introduced in July, while continuing to gain key support throughout Congress and the committees that are most influential to getting the legislation passed. While legislative compromise is expected, the bill’s primary purpose is to remove hemp from the Schedule I substance list, set workable levels for THC content, and allow states to self-regulate the cultivation of hemp. With these limited legislative approvals, hemp will be able to move forward in dramatic ways, encouraging both investment and economic growth within the hemp industry.

The National Hemp Association looks forward to the introduction of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act and will provide Congressman Comer, and his co-sponsors, our full and committed support in passage of the legislation.

“There is new leadership in the USDA, on the Hill and within our industry” said Whaling. “I am confident that this group will advance our industry to a level never before achieved.”

Now would be a good time to contact your Senator and Representative and ask them to cosponsor Senator Merkley’s SAFE Banking Act (S.1152) and Congressman Comer’s Industrial Hemp Act when it is released in July.

Please consider becoming a member to help support our efforts both in Pennsylvania and on the federal level.

Hemp History Made in Pennsylvania

Traditionally the first week of June marks the week long ‘Hemp History Week’. The last several years we have hosted events in conjunction with Hemp History Week to not only celebrate the rich history of hemp in PA, but to push for hemp legislation.

This June is different. This year we make history!

Technically, for the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council, the historic moments began on May 31st when, after overcoming frustrating roadblocks and delays, we were finally able to pick up our seed! 670 pounds of Anka which is considered a dual purpose crop.

We wasted no time and planted our first field the very next day!  June 1, 2017 we planted 5 acres in Bethlehem. After literal years of fighting for the right to cultivate hemp it was almost surreal that the moment had finally arrived.

Just 2 days later, on June 3rd with a group of amazing volunteers, we went to Pinchot State Forest to plant our most challenging trial. This 5 acre patch of land is freshly reclaimed coal mine land. It is a barren moonscape that has not seen any vegetation in decades. With all the contracts and delays we did not have the time we would have liked to prep the field but felt it imperative to move forward knowing that despite how well the hemp grows this year, what we learn will be immensely valuable in the planning for next year.

A week later we hosted a Celebration of PA Hemp in Bethlehem within walking distance of the field we planted on the first. We were honored to be joined at the event by Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, Senator Judy Schwank, Senator Mike Folmer, Representative Russ Diamond who all spoke about the journey to get where we are and the tremendous potential for hemp moving forward. We also were thrilled to have several of the other permit holders come and speak of the important trials they are conducting. Each participant and each trial have their own story and are worthy of their own blogs. We will be talking a lot more about each of them and following their progress.

To help demonstrate the versatility and potential of hemp we had some wonderful demonstrations at our event. Artisan Hemp taught attendees about hemp paper making. Lime Works demonstrated making a hempcrete wall. Penn’s Best Mill Company was pressing fresh hemp seed oil. We also has several other vendor’s showcasing their hemp products along with the Dept of Agriculture who set also up a display. A huge thank you everyone that participated and attended, it was a beautiful day and we hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as we did!

On Monday the 11th we went up to Pinchot to check the progress. We weren’t expecting much but to our delight we were greeted by sprouts! While its too soon to get too excited, the sprouts were fragile and the conditions harsh, it was a very hopeful sign! We look forward to going back up this coming week to see how they are doing.

We also checked our Lehigh field. In just five short days after the last time we checked the sprouts had transformed into seedlings! We look forward to following these healthy and happy plants through the summer! There is still one more trial for us to plant, this one being on an old zinc mine as part of another remediation trial. We are hoping to get those seeds in the ground this coming week.

There is so much to say and there is still much work to do. Tomorrow, the work continues. Together we can help farmers, build a sustainable industry, develop new technologies, create jobs and return Pennsylvania to its rightful place as a leading hemp producer.

Today we only wish to take this moment to remember how we got here, indulge in the sheer beauty of seeing living, growing hemp plants back in Pennsylvania soil and daydream about the future.




Lehigh Valley Celebrates Hemp History, Present and Future

When hemp is planted in the Lehigh Valley in May of 2017 it will not be making a brand new debut. No, it is in fact making a long awaited return to the fields it so comfortably inhabited for the better part of two centuries. Today, the plant is utilized heavily in healthcare products like endoca hemp salve.

When William Penn founded Pennsylvania in 1681 hemp had already been growing in settlements founded by the Swedes near the Delaware River as early as the 1650’s. Penn intended to greatly expand the production of hemp and at his request one of the first laws passed by the General Assembly in 1683 was an act to encourage all farmers to grow hemp. In 1685 William Penn observed great quantities of hemp already being grown here and declared that hemp would be among the four staples of trade, allowing them to produce top shelf weed for neighboring settlements.

For the next forty-five years hemp was encouraged by the Pa. General Assembly. They paid increasingly higher bounties to farmers who would produce hemp for the ship building industry and for export to England. The farmers of the new settlements responded so much to the colonial government’s call for hemp that in 1729 when the county of Lancaster was formed it contained the original Hempfield Township named for the “great quantities of hemp” raised there.

Between the years of 1720 and 1870 there were over 100 water-powered mills for processing hemp fiber in Lancaster County alone with dozens of hemp mills (and oil mills) in all of the surrounding counties. At least three dozen hemp mills ran in York County, at least three dozen in Berks County have been documented. Altogether over 200 hemp mills have been documented in Pennsylvania but a thorough and completely exhaustive search would surely reveal more than 300 hemp mills dotting the landscape of Pennsylvania from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, from Erie to Easton and a similar number of oil mills.

The culture of hemp was nearly universal until the 1840’s when the era of homespun finally yielded to the advances of cotton, yet hemp would continue to be grown in Pennsylvania for another century.

Hemp was grown in every early settlement of Pennsylvania and therefore it is of no surprise that we find that the early settlers of the Lehigh Valley also grew hemp. In fact, the hemp pilot projects being planned by Lehigh University in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council are located in an area with a rich history of hemp production.

In 1742 Christopher Heller arrived in the Lower Saucon Valley and built a log cabin. Nine years later, in 1751 he was joined by his son George Christopher Heller who had left Germany to come to the land that his father had prepared for him.

The son took up residence and within a few years he had built a hemp mill and oil mill to process both fiber for use in homespun clothing and oil from the seed to be used in paints, printer’s ink and lamp oil. Years later the mills were taken over by his son, Michael Heller. The hemp and oil mills remained in the Heller family for decades and stood just a couple miles from here, near Hellertown, named of course for the original Hellers who settled there.

A couple miles north of the chosen fields for hemp is the town of Bethlehem, the center of the early Moravian settlement. The Moravians owned 12,000 acres of land, farmed communally and raised hemp as a major crop. In 1752 they erected a hemp stamping mill and an oil mill to process hemp fiber and hempseed oil. In 1767 they replaced the hemp stampers with a large conical-shaped hemp millstone, common in hemp mills around Pennsylvania.

The Moravians kept meticulous records and show that many tons of hemp was processed for decades in the mill along with great volumes of hempseed oil. For a fascinating account of these mills please refer to The Bethlehem Oil Mill.

An interesting side note: the first firehose used by the old fire company in Bethlehem was made out of hemp and brought from Germany in 1818. In 1846, A. Stone from Philadelphia made hemp firehoses and in 1876 the Wilkes Barre fire company ordered 1,000 feet of hemp hose.

By the 1840’s hemp had already been grown in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding area for more than a century. Although the industry was declining many farmers continued to grow the crop for poultry and livestock feed, for various niche industries as a rotation crop to choke out weeds and even as a buffer crop for potatoes believing it to be a natural insect repellent.

In the 1850’s hemp continued to be grown and during the Civil War in the 1860’s when the southern supply of cotton was cut off the production of hemp in Pennsylvania got a big boost. The agricultural census of 1870 does not record hemp in Lehigh but shows 10 tons of hemp grown in Schuylkill County.

We know though that hemp continued to be grown in this whole area in the 1870’s and into the 1880’s. In 1878 over in Boyertown Amos Borneman had a stalk of hemp growing in his garden that was ten feet four inches high with branches 4 ½ feet long. That same year the Reading Times reported in a sentence “The hemp crop will be very large in the Lehigh and Schuylkill valleys”.

In 1879 the Wilkes Barre Record of the Times observed that the hemp industry had been declining over most of America but took note that “the increase of American hemp in this decade, and this state, give the subject some local and some national importance”.

That same year the Reading Times reported “Farmers are beginning to pay more attention to hemp raising than they have done for many years”.

In 1881 the Berks County Agricultural Society offered a premium for hemp raised in Berks County. Their goal was for the promotion of the local agricultural and horticultural industries.

In July of 1881 the Harrisburg Telegraph reported “In the article of hemp there is now much interest taken and the crop this year will be a large one. These facts show that what Pennsylvania loses in one article of industries she gains in many new products, or old ones renewed.”

In 1889 The Daily Republican of Allentown reported “The subject of hemp culture is drawing the serious attention of farmers in the Northern States.” They added “It is hoped that the culture of hemp, and its manufacture, may be largely increased.”

In 1900 the Seed Committee for the Allentown Fair met and agreed to contract A.T. Stover to supply livestock feed needed for the fair. Included in the mix were bushels of hemp seed. For many years afterwards the Allentown Fair bought hempseed from local farmers. Stover got the contract many years but hempseed was sold in many stores throughout the area. Stover was still providing seed for the fair in 1931.

In 1907 and 1908 there was a hemp revival in Pennsylvania, especially in the area of Hanover, York, Adams and Cumberland counties. The hemp was supervised by Lyster Dewey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who declared the hemp the finest he had ever seen, not excepting Kentucky hemp. (Lyster Dewey was in charge of the government’s experimental hemp farm, the grounds of which now known better as the land on which sits the Pentagon.)

Much of this hemp was grown for the Hanover Cordage factory but we also know that hemp was being grown for paper in Cumberland County in the early 1930’s.

In 1909 the Allentown Democrat reported:

“A middle state farmer whose fields are becoming fouled with quackgrass is this year trying the efficacy of hemp as a means of getting rid of the plague. Hemp grows to a height of six or eight feet and so completely covers and shades the ground that any other plant is smothered in the midst of it. It is thought that putting the land in hemp two years in succession will completely free the land of the grass. An advantage of this method, if it is as effective as is anticipated, would be that the hemp has considerable commercial value, and the use of the land will not be lost in the process, as is true of some other methods which have been recommended.”

In 1936 the Morning Call published an article about the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commission urging rural Pennsylvania residents to plant crops in strips and patches to feed wild birds and animals during the winter. Corn, millet and hemp were among the plants to be cultivated and left to stand during the winter months.

There were many factories for making rope in this part of Pennsylvania called “ropewalks”. Ropewalks existed in Philadelphia, Easton, Allentown, Reading, Lebanon, Harrisburg, York, Columbia and many other locations. The ropewalk in Easton operated until the 1970’s though by that time it had long ago switched from locally grown hemp to foreign imports as well as synthetic fibers.

So when was the last hemp crop planted in the Lehigh Valley? Of that we can never be quite certain. When “marihuana” was banned in Pennsylvania hemp got caught up in the confusion. Nobody seemed to be sure what was hemp and what was “marihuana”. Farmers in various parts of the state were arrested and pleaded ignorance of any crime.

The common explanation heard was that the farmer was growing hemp for seed to feed their chickens. One of these men was Andrew Duna who was arrested in 1938 for growing hemp in Bethlehem for the express purpose of feeding his chickens. Then again, he also admitted to smoking the plant in his pipe. Today, however, smoking with cheap glass pipes seems to be all the rage when it comes to consuming marijuana in the age of legalization!

In the 1940 The Morning Call reported that wild hemp was found growing on a 1,800 square foot area by the Central railroad in Allentown. Authorities described it as the “the first known marihuana in Allentown”. It was however, wild hemp, remnants of a bygone era. One particularly impressive specimen was described as a bush of over seven feet high.

Police spent the day uprooting the plants which amounted to 600 pounds and kept them under watch by two armed guards until the plants could be burned. The police chief warned that anyone who smoked the wild hemp would likely go crazy and kill members of their own family. He seemed confused.

“Although no one in the vicinity was held responsible for the presence of the plant dope, originally the plants must have been brought here intentionally by someone, authorities said. This, however, may have been years ago.”

Somehow the memory of hemp was erased from the minds of those who remained in the Lehigh Valley. The plant of their ancestors and the founding settlers was now demonized as “marihuana” and though some farmers grew it in Pennsylvania into the 1940’s and there are anecdotal reports of hemp growing much later, eventually it became impossible to grow. The crop was banned in Pennsylvania, until this year.

So it is with much excitement that hemp returns to the Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Schuylkill County, Dauphin, Perry and other counties throughout the state.

Let there be no confusion, industrial hemp is NOT what we would call “marijuana”. Industrial hemp has a THC content of just .3% or less, a miniscule amount that could never be smoked to produce a “high”. Today, Pennsylvania has recognized that industrial hemp is a legitimate agricultural crop with enormous potential and thousands of potential uses. We have finally learned to “separate the rope from the dope”. These days there are several different products created from hemp these include CBD oil and Hemp Superfoods, now I bet you’re asking what are hemp superfoods? The best place to find information on hemp superfoods is online or at a dispensary.

On June 10 Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council is celebrating the return of industrial hemp to Pennsylvania. 2017 is historic for Pennsylvania as we plant our first hemp crops in over 80 years! Join us for a family friendly event to learn more about PA’s 2017 pilot program, the history of hemp in PA and its potential for the future.

We are gathering very near a planting site to celebrate the future as we also mark the final days of Hemp History Week. There will be featuring hemp paper making workshop, Hempcrete making demonstration, panel discussions about current hemp projects, special guest speakers, lunch featuring hemp foods, live music, hemp Vendors and a surprise or two!

Joining us will be Pa. State Senators Judy Schwank and Mike Folmer, Representative Russ Diamond and Secretary Russell Redding of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. At least six of the sixteen hemp trial participants will also be on hand to discuss their fascinating projects.

The hemp is likely to be a few feet high by June 10. We will be witnessing the rebirth of a billion dollar industry in Pennsylvania. The crop that once grew so abundantly in the Lehigh Valley and all other parts of Pennsylvania has returned. The year 2017 will go down in history and will be remembered 100 years from now.

~Les Stark

PAHIC and Lehigh University Partner to Research Hemp Innovations

Yesterday was an historic day in Pennsylvania as the PA Department of Agriculture closed its application acceptance for the 2017 Hemp Pilot Program. From what we are told they received right around 30 applications which is the maximum number of permits that will be awarded for 2017. Hopefully that means all that applied will get approval!

We are still disappointed in the limited scope of PAs program. We will continue to fight to get it expanded to allow small farmers to reasonably be able to participate and to allow a true commercial hemp industry to be developed in PA. This was always our intention when we endeavored to get hemp legislation passed in the first place and we are as committed as ever to making that happen.

In the meantime, we still have reason to celebrate!

PAHIC is proud to have partnered with Lehigh University to apply for permits for three exciting and innovative hemp research projects.

Cameron McCoy, AVP Economic Engagement for Lehigh University and Dr. Bryan Berger, Associate Professor Department of Chemical and Bio molecular Engineering  are the LU visionaries that made this partnership possible.

The three projects we intend to pursue:


Pennsylvania has literally hundreds of thousands of acres of abandoned coal mine lands that are contaminated with heavy metals. This project will focus on hemp’s ability to remove these toxins from the soil at a fraction of the cost of traditional remediation methods. We will also determine the impact that growing hemp on contaminated soil has on the plant itself and what applications the harvested hemp can be used for.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) also wants. to partner with us on this project. They also have land that would benefit from hemp remediation. Unfortunately the deadline made it impossible to incorporate them into our application and still get it turned in on time. However the Department of Ag has expressed they may allow us to amend our application so they may participate with us. We hope it happens. This is important research and the positive environmental and economic impacts hemp may provide for decimated land in Pennsylvania could be immense.

Bio manufacturing of Hemp Derived Light Harvesting Devices

  • Determine growth conditions that favor production of graphitic carbon nanosheets from hemp fiber
  • Integrate quantum dots (QDs) into hemp-derived nanosheets
  • Demonstrate water-splitting using integrated QD-nanosheet materials

If you want your mind blown take some time to investigate the groundbreaking research Dr. Berger has already done in the field of Quantum Dots and Nanotechnology!

Isolation and Identification of Potent Antimicrobial Compounds from Hemp

  • Determine growth conditions that favor production of antimicrobial compounds
  • Determine which part(s) of plant contain antimicrobial compounds
  • Extract, isolate and identify bioactive compounds within hemp plant fragments that are responsible for antimicrobial activity
  • Determine range of efficacy of hemp antimicrobial extracts against known microbial pathogens.

This is another area where Dr. Berger has extensive experience and we are very fortunate to have such a brilliant researcher taking the lead on hemp technology research and development!

Hemp 3D Printing

In addition to the formal projects we’ve applied for, left over hemp material will be used to explore the many exciting possibilities with using hemp in 3D printing applications

We look forward to commencing these projects and anticipate that through our partnership we will propel Lehigh University and Pennsylvania into world leaders in hemp manufacturing and innovation!


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