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October 17, 2020

Western Maryland Resource Conservation, Development Council receives $50K for hemp study

Credit: The Cumberland Times-News, Brandon Glass

CUMBERLAND — The Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council will receive $50,000 in federal funding to conduct a feasibility study on the industrial hemp processing industry in the area, U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Rep. David Trone said Thursday.

“Right now, we need to be looking for ways to revitalize and grow Western Maryland’s agricultural sector, and this funding is critical in that effort,” said Trone. “The federally-funded study will bring the possibility of new jobs in a growing industry, and I look forward to seeing the impact on our community.”

The funding is from the Appalachian Regional Commission and looks to benefit 100 Western Maryland businesses. Per the ARC website, it “is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region.”

In December 2018, the farm bill was signed into law, which removed hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substance Act. This move works to, in effect, make the study and use of hemp products easier and more widespread, but still keeps it under the FDA’s jurisdiction.

“Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council is pleased to have received funding from ARC to conduct this project which will focus on examining the feasibility of establishing a processing facility for industrial hemp to serve Western Maryland, south-central Pennsylvania and the northeast West Virginia region, providing increased educational outreach to local farmers, and offering guidance on possible strategies for moving forward with the development of such a facility,” said Josh Smith, executive director, Western Maryland RC&D Council. “We’d like to thank our partners who will be cooperating to lead and support this project, including University of Maryland Extension, Garrett County Department of Economic Development, Mountain Maryland Hemp Alliance, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Penn State Extension, and several others.”