What Still Needs to Happen to Free Virginia’s Hemp Economy

In the 2015 session of the Virginia General Assembly, Right Way Forward Virginia helped mobilize libertarians and allies in support of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, common-sense legislation to allow industrial hemp cultivation in Virginia. Industrial hemp has thousands of economic applications, including textiles, oil, and building materials.

Unfortunately, more still needs to be done to enable Virginia to build a more dynamic economy and become the leader for industrial hemp cultivation and manufacturing.

At the federal level, Congress must act. Federal law still considers hemp a Schedule I narcotic, even though it is not a drug. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act (S. 134/H.R. 525) is bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) that would eradicate those barriers and legalize industrial hemp production, enabling Virginia farmers to grow a new cash crop and spurring innovation and job creation.

U.S. Representatives Gerald Connolly (D-VA 11th), Robert Hurt (R-VA 5th), and Bobby Scott (D-VA 3rd) are the only members of Virginia’s Congressional Delegation who have endorsed this legislation.

It’s especially vital Virginians turn up the heat on Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA 1st) and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA 4th), who last year voted against a bipartisan amendment prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) from using funds to interfere with state laws allowing industrial hemp cultivation.

Meanwhile, a new bill (HB699) introduced in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly is designed to enable Virginia farmers and entrepreneurs to be ready to grow hemp for commercial purposes once the federal prohibition ends. Right Way Forward Virginia supports this bill.