Hawaii Enacts New Hemp Law, Ushering in Bright Future for Agriculture, CBD
The Hawaii governor’s office announced late on Friday, August 28, that the Hawaii Hemp Bill was signed into law, ushering in a bright future for Hawaii agriculture, producers of hemp and CBD products, local retailers, spas, health food stores and Hawaii’s consumers.
Hawaii Hemp Bill HB1819 was signed by Governor David Ige. It was discussed during the emergency legislative session earlier this summer and the State Senate passed it unanimously. The new state law clarifies that the growing, processing and sale of industrial hemp products in Hawaii is legal. It means that the existing industrial hemp pilot program will be replaced by the USDA hemp production program.
“This commercial hemp program will help grow a new industry in our state, which is especially needed now due to the impacts of COVID-19,” said Senator Mike Gabbard, chair of the Agriculture and Environment Committee.
“This bill will provide an opportunity for economic development and the diversification of our economy,” Gabbard said.
“Hemp is an incredible plant that produces over 25,000 products, and we’re very close to making the Hawaiian Hemp brand a reality, not only in the U.S. but globally as well,” the senator said.
Hopes for Hawaiian CBD to be the new Kona Coffee
Hawaiian Choice founder and CEO Jared Dalgamouni, as part of the Board of Directors of the Hawaii Hemp Farmers Association, worked closely with Hawaii’s Senator Gabbard to ensure safe passage of the bill. He also testified many times before the legislators in support of the Hawaiian CBD manufacturing industry.
“We are delighted with the passage of the hemp bill. Hemp can fill the agricultural void left by pineapple and sugar cane and it is not dependent on tourism, which has been deeply affected by COVID-19,” Dalgamouni said.
“We are excited to keep growing our brands and making the premium qualities of CBD from Hawaiian hemp known worldwide like Kona Coffee.” (Hawaiian Choice products contain CBD extracted from Hawaii grown hemp.)
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Want to diversify Hawaii’s economy? Cultivate hemp, CBD
It is an especially crucial time for Hawaii to diversify its industries given the huge impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on Hawaii’s tourism industry.
Prior to the corona virus outbreak, Hawaii had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States, at around 2.6%. In April 2020, it had skyrocketed to 23%, with some areas such as Kahului on Maui reporting 35% unemployment. The numbers improved somewhat as the state opened up non-essential businesses and allowed inter-island tourism in June, July and the early part of August. However, as Covid-19 rates climbed, new quarantine rules were instituted. First, those returning from Oahu to neighbor islands were told to quarantine for two weeks and on August 27, the island of Oahu went back into a full shutdown of all but essential businesses.
Tourists arriving in Hawaii and residents returning to Hawaii must quarantine in a hotel room or personal residence for 14 days. The end of this quarantine period is likely to continue for as long as the virus plagues the islands. Many hotels, including Hawaii’s largest resort, Hilton Hawaiian Village, remain closed. The loss of the hotel industry has a huge knock-on effect for Hawaii as that also means millions lost for restaurants, stores, spas, sight-seeing tours etc. Unemployment is rising again and many small businesses are going out of business.
Can hemp, CBD replace Hawaiian pineapple, sugarcane?
Hawaii used to have a more diversified economy with agriculture playing a big role in the islands. Hawaiian red dirt and the year-round warm, tropical climate were ideal for growing pineapple and sugarcane. But, those industries have moved to locations with cheaper land and cheaper labor costs. Hawaii’s last remaining sugar grower closed down its Maui operations in 2016.
Corn seed, commercial forestry, macadamia nuts and coffee are still grown in Hawaii. However, even if you combine all those agricultural products together, they don’t come anywhere close to filling the economic void left by sugarcane and pineapple.
There is now a lot of agricultural land that is not in use, despite being some of the most expensive land on the planet. The hope is that hemp can at least in part fill that void left by sugar and pineapple to become an important crop in Hawaii.
As Senator Mike Gabbard pointed out, hemp produces 25,000 different products – everything from rope to hempcrete (concrete made from hemp).
CBD, rare cannabinoids offer bright future
CBD oil, which is extracted from hemp, is probably the most lucrative product that hemp produces. Sales of CBD tinctures, CBD topicals and CBD gummies have skyrocketed in recent years. Just a few years ago, very few people had even heard of CBD, but the wellness products are everywhere and in everyone’s medicine cabinets now. It is therefore especially important that Hawaii Bill HB1819 was passed into law to clarify the legality of CBD sales in Hawaii. After all, CBD is sold in many of Hawaii’s high end hotels, spas, malls, natural food stores, convenience stores and other shops. This law should give all of those important entities assurance and peace of mind.
In addition to CBD, scientists are finding that hemp contains many other cannabinoids that also have healthful benefits. These “minor” or “rare” cannabinoids exist in very small quantities in the hemp plant (and are also found in cannabis and some other plants). The latest technology is just beginning to allow rare cannabinoids to be extracted in quantities large enough to be sold.
In other words, there are likely many more benefits to be had from the hemp plant than we even know at this point. This is why it’s especially exciting for Hawaii to be able to grow world-class hemp, extract premium CBD and cannabinoids and be able to manufacture and sell CBD products. Let’s hope this new law paves the way for a very exciting future whereby hemp and CBD produce new jobs in Hawaii, boost our islands’ economy and keep our people healthy and happy.