Two legislators are crossing party lines and a generational gap to join hands in support of rapid action to enable the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company to transition to hemp production as it ceases sugar cane farming later this year.

Reps. Kaniela Ing and Cynthia Thielen form a inter-party alliance in support of hemp legalization.
Reps. Kaniela Ing and Cynthia Thielen form a inter-party alliance in support of hemp legalization. Kaniela Ing via Facebook

Rep. Kaniela Ing, a 27-year-old Democrat in his second term representing South Maui, and Rep. Cynthia Thielen, an 82-year-old Republican from Kailua and longtime “hemp warrior,” are “putting forth a bipartisan proposal to transition HC&S’s cornerstone crop from sugar to industrial hemp,” according to a post from Ing on Facebook.

The two are asking supporters of the concept to sign a petition on that asks members of the Legislature to approve industrial hemp production in the legislative session starting later this month. Kicked off last Friday, the petition had drawn 3,000 signatures by Wednesday afternoon toward a goal of 5,000.

“With your support, Maui can create a food and energy self-sufficiency model for Hawaii, preserve productive agricultural lands, and establish new economic engines for Maui and the State of Hawaii,” writes petition organizer Tiare Lawrence.

“Coupled with direct severance and training assistance, this could save hundreds of plantation jobs on Maui,” agrees Ing in his Facebook post. “Your petition is working, keep it going!

The issue was the subject of a Civil Beat column earlier this week that detailed Thielen’s longstanding advocacy for hemp and a new report from a hemp research project at the University of Hawaii that said, in part, “the future is promising for this crop in our islands.”


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