The Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday approved a measure to let farmers grow industrial hemp if they do it in partnership with a university.
Advocates for the plant say it is cheap, good for the environment and versatile, and that it has been unfairly maligned because of its relationship to marijuana. Unlike marijuana, hemp can not be smoked to get a high, but growing it is still illegal in many states and at the federal level.
But 18 states, including neighboring Pennsylvania and Virginia, have approved the growth of industrial hemp.
The Maryland proposal, which passed 136-1, now goes to the Senate for consideration. If approved and signed by the governor, the law would allow farmers to sign up for a pilot program to grow or process hemp.
Hemp’s fibers can be used for rope and clothing, as well as plastic-like auto parts. Its seeds can make edible foods and oils. It can also be used as a cover crop and is weed resistance, so it doesn’t require herbicides.