Licensed farmers can now grow hemp commercially in West Virginia after the House unanimously passed HB2453 Tuesday.
Delegate Jeff Eldridge (D-Alum Creek) and Delegate Jim Butler (R-Henderson) introduced the bill on Feb. 15. Under the new law, any person with a license can plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell, and buy industrial hemp. To obtain a license, the individual must go through the Department of Agriculture and meet statutory requirements.
State legislatures have recently taken action to promote industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. In the 2014 farm bill, Congress allowed state ag departments to license the growing of industrial hemp for research purposes.With the change in federal law, at least 20 states have passed laws creating industrial hemp research or pilot programs. Virginia currently has research programs underway at Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, and James Madison University.
West Virginia joins Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, California, and Vermont that have ignored the federal “research only purposes” and legalized industrial hemp production within their state borders anyway.