Governor Ralph Northam visited Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm on Wednesday to sign Industrial Hemp legislation. The bill, which went active in March, conforms Virginia’s definitions of cannabidiol oil, marijuana and THC to exclude industrial hemp for registered growers.
Prior to the bill's passing, hemp could only be grown legally by research programs in select state universities. The only schools with those research programs were Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, James Madison and Virginia State University.
The passing of HB 1839 abolishes those research programs, but also ends the requirement that a hemp grower or processor acts exclusively within such a program.
The Commonwealth had 85 registered growers with 135 total acres of planted hemp crop in 2018. Those numbers are projected to raise to 808 industrial hemp growers with approximately 8,000 total acres by the end of 2019, according to the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (VDACS).
“Some of our farmers are suffering right now,” Northam said. “Commodity prices today are as low as they’ve been in many years … In Southside and Southwest Virginia for two decades now, farmers have sought new opportunities to make up for the shrinking tobacco economy. Industrial hemp cultivation is one of those new opportunities.”
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