Eighty years after being banned because of its similarity to marijuana, hemp could be returning to a field in Rapho Township in Lancaster County this spring.
Greg Roth, a professor of agronomy at Penn State University, said Thursday that it has applied to move a hemp research project started near University Park last year to its research station in Landisville, and expects the application to be approved.
“Lancaster county is one of our largest agricultural counties, and there are a lot of innovators in agriculture there,” Roth said. “We’d like to invite them during the summer to see our trial and discuss its potential in the state.”
Hemp, a source of food and fiber for thousands of years, was once so prevalent here that it gave East and West Hempfield townships their names.
Hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis, but marijuana has high levels of THC, the compound that causes its psychoactive effect, and hemp has very little THC.
Hemp was banned in 1937, but a Pennsylvania program that started in 2017 allowed it to be grown in the state for research under strict conditions.
State officials said it was planted on less than 50 acres statewide last year, none of them in Lancaster County. This year, the state expanded the program and said it would allow up to 50 individual growers or institutions of higher education to grow up to 100 acres of industrial hemp apiece.
The application deadline was Jan. 19, and state officials have not yet released any information about the applications or when those who have received approval will be named.