House Dems to hold hearing on Pa.’s hemp industry | Five for the Weekend

In 2021, the Pa. Agriculture Department reported that it issued 426 hemp growing permits

By: - May 7, 2022 6:30 am

Hemp plants hang beneath a tent at a rally to legalize recreational cannabis outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol on April 20, 2021 (Capital-Star photo).

On Monday, May 9, the House Democratic Policy Committee, which is chaired by state Rep. Ryan Bizarro, D-Erie, will meet in Philadelphia to discuss Pennsylvania’s Hemp Industry and how build the industry to generate revenue for the commonwealth’s farmers.

Hemp, which can be used to make everything from textiles and construction materials to cannabidiol (CBD) oils and extracts, was removed from the federal Controlled Substance Act in 2018.

Around the same time, Pennsylvania began its Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program, and in 2019 became one of the first states to have a commercial program.

However, the specialty crop hasn’t been an easy source of income for its growers, who report that regulations, strict growing standards, and a young market make it hard to turn a profit.

So far in 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, which oversees the hemp permitting in the commonwealth, has issued 250 permits for growers.

In 2021, the department reported that it issued 426 hemp growing permits.

As always, the top five stories from this week are below.

Kelvin A. Jeremiah, PHA president/CEO, along with its board of commissioners, expand Second Chance Voucher program for ex-offenders on federal probation who complete STAR Reentry program (Philadelphia Tribune photo by Abdul R. Sulayman).

1. Ex-offenders who complete reentry program eligible for Philly Housing Authority housing

The federal probation office in the eastern district of Pennsylvania has a reentry court program called Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) for former offenders on probation, seeking to make a successful and productive return to society.

The STAR program provides intensive supervision and helps these returning citizens with education, training, employment and other services. In partnership with the city’s housing agency, those who successfully complete the program are eligible for Second Chance Vouchers that will pay for a rental apartment for up to two years.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks during an event in Gettysburg to formally announce a run for governor on Jan. 8, 2022. (Screenshot)

2. Pa. GOP governor hopeful Mastriano campaigned at event promoting QAnon

A top-tier Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, among other GOP luminaries, put in an appearance at an event in Gettysburg last weekend that promoted QAnon and conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to published reports.

The candidate, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, attended the conference called “Patriots Arise for God and Country,” according to Right Wing Watch, a website that monitors the far right.

Mastriano was joined by Republican lieutenant governor hopeful Teddy Daniels; Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox; Liz Harrington, a spokesperson for former President Donald Trump; and former Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, according to Philadelphia Inquirer, which first reported the story.

Abortion rights supporters rally at the Pa. State Capitol on Tuesday, 5/21/19, as part of a national day of action (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

3. Wolf: In wake of leaked Supreme Court opinion on Roe, ‘abortion is and will remain legal in Pennsylvania’

Gov. Tom Wolf says “abortion is and will remain legal in Pennsylvania,” in the wake of an unprecedented leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion apparently overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

Politico broke the news of the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito holding that “Roe and [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey must be overruled.” The latter is a reference to the high court’s 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which further clarified abortion law.

A ruling overturning Roe would return decisions over abortion rights to individual states, which could then move to severely restrict or ban access to abortion. The high court is expected to announce its opinion when its current term ends in June.

District Attorney Larry Krasner (Jared Piper/Philadelphia City Council/City & State Pa.).

4. House passes bill limiting Philly DA to two terms

A Republican-authored bill limiting Philadelphia’s elected district attorneys to two four-year terms passed the House on Tuesday.

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Martina White, R-Philadelphia, cleared the lower chamber by a vote of 115-88.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate for a vote, would limit the top prosecutor in Pennsylvania’s largest city – and only in Philadelphia – to two four-year terms. The proposal appears to take aim at Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat, who has been a target for GOP lawmakers.

Lionell Dotson Sr.,of Fayetteville, N.C. speaks at a news conference outside Philadelphia City Hall on Thursday, 4/28/22 (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

5. Brother of 2 MOVE bombing victims calls for Philly to release their remains

The brother of two sisters who were among the 11 killed by the Philadelphia police in the bombing of the MOVE group’s West Philadelphia home in 1985, has demanded city officials release their remains so he can have a proper burial for them.

“They are my sisters. They are my immediate family,” Lionell Dotson Sr., said at a news conference outside City Hall last week. “They took them from me. They are holding them like they are trophies. I am asking Mayor (Jim) Kenney to release them to me and do it expeditiously. This city is in a great deal of debt to me and we want them to pay up.”

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.