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Pennsylvania Launches $200,000 Grant Program To Support Hemp Marketing And Consumer Awareness



Pennsylvania officials announced on Monday that they will be providing up to $200,000 in matched funding for marketing projects to promote the state’s hemp market.

The state Department of Agriculture said that non-profit organizations that take on marketing initiatives to increase hemp sales, exports or consumer awareness of the sector of the cannabis industry are eligible for the reimbursement funds.

“Hemp has presented a unique opportunity to grow an industry from the ground up, supplying seemingly limitless sustainable construction materials, fiber and food products,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a press release.

“These grants will feed a new industry that was once a staple of Pennsylvania’s economy and is again presenting opportunities for farm income and jobs as well as new possibilities for climate-friendly, environmentally beneficial products,” he said.

The purpose of the program is threefold, according to a notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin:

(1) Increase consumer awareness of agricultural hemp products within this Commonwealth and thereby increase sales of these agricultural hemp products.

(2) Educate producers and consumers with respect to agricultural hemp products within this Commonwealth.

(3) Otherwise facilitate the growth and development of export markets for agricultural hemp products within this Commonwealth.

To qualify, a non-profit entity needs to have started the hemp marketing project on or after July 1 of this year and have them completed by June 30, 2023. The department will match funding for organizations that spend at least $1,000. Applicants will be selected on a competitive basis.

The Department of Community and Economic Development will process the applications, which can be submitted online and are due by December 2.

The department previously provided more than $157,000 in funding through the program for three organizations that were meant to increase consumer awareness of hemp products, as well as hemp fiber and food markets and opportunities.

At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released a report on the hemp industry boom in Europe, recognizing that the cannabis crop is an increasingly important economic commodity that could also help the region achieve bold climate-related goals.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has separately awarded Texas A&M University $3.47 million to support a project to 3D print hemp-based building materials known colloquially as hempcrete, with a focus on creating affordable housing.

DOE is separately sponsoring an initiative to develop hemp fiber insulation that’s designed to be better for the environment and public health than conventional preparations are, the agency announced late last year.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also announced last year that it was awarding a Washington State-based company a $100,000 grant to support the development of sustainable bricks made from industrial hemp.

House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders have included multiple hemp provisions in recent spending legislation that encourage the exploration of hemp as an environmentally friendlier alternative to plastics.

Back in Pennsylvania, cannabis issues have been a key focus of Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) administration.

The governor and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) launched a one-time marijuana pardon initiative that ran through September, with more than 3,500 people applying for relief through the Board of Pardons.

Wolf signed a medical cannabis expansion bill last year, and he’s repeatedly called for legalization and pressured the Republican-controlled legislature to pursue the reform since coming out in favor of the policy in 2019.

Last year, Wolf pardoned a doctor who was arrested, prosecuted and jailed for growing marijuana that he used to provide relief for his dying wife. That marked his 96th pardon for people with cannabis convictions through an ongoing Expedited Review Program for Non-Violent Marijuana-Related Offenses.

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Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.

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