Reading, PA – Albright College has been awarded a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture permit to research and grow industrial hemp in the state of Pennsylvania during 2019.
The college’s exclusive grower and processor will be Wyndridge Farm, located in Dallastown, Pa. The family-owned company is led by physician and Albright class of 1987 alumnus, Steve Groff, M.D. Farming and research is expected to begin this spring.
“This very exclusive permit creates unique opportunities for Albright students and faculty to participate in data-driven research on the growth, development and marketing of industrial hemp products,” said Albright President Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82. “We expect the endeavor to provide internship and employment opportunities in a revolutionary industry. Albright students will gain real time experience of an industry roll out.”
Industrial Hemp, once grown extensively throughout the state, was declassified through the 2018 Farm Bill after a nearly 80 year hiatus.
Steve Groff is a former orthopedic surgeon and founding president of OSS Health, a regional musculoskeletal medical practice and hospital. Injured in a severe bicycle accident in 2011, Groff reinvented his livelihood, developing a family-run hospitality and beverage manufacturing facility. In only its third year of operation, Wyndridge Farm was named York Business of the Year in 2018.
“There is a lot of passion in trying to do things the right way,” said Groff. “There are a lot of unknowns about the health and wellness benefits of cannabinoids, so we need to show integrity in expressing what we do and don’t know, in order to raise the bar on research and education in this rapidly evolving area.”
Though industrial hemp was commercially grown in Pennsylvania before becoming regulated and prohibited along with marijuana, after World War II, industrial hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa. Marijuana is cultivated because of its production of the psychoactive plant chemical delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Industrial hemp is cultivated for fiber, seed and other purposes, and federal and state law requires that the concentration of THC in industrial hemp must be less than 0.3%. And while they are chemically similar to THC, cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD) do not have the psychoactive effects of THC. Preliminary clinical research on CBD, one of 113 cannabinoids extracted from hemp, shows potential applications in the treatment of chronic pain, anxiety and sleep disorders.
“There are thousands of uses for industrial hemp,” said Groff. “Part of the need for Pennsylvania is to determine which to focus on first.”
Learn more about Pennsylvania’s industrial hemp permit program on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s website.