Growing Our Own; Legal Hemp Could Flourish in VA

May 2, 2019

After many years as an illegal crop, Hemp is back in Virginia, and this time, it could prove to be even more versatile even than ever.  Researchers are finding new ways to use this easy to cultivate, renewable resource. 

Credit Virginia Tech

Most people may know that colonists in Virginia, were required by their King to allocate a portion of their arable land to growing hemp.  Its fibers were great for making vital materials like rope and cloth, and a fabric known as canvass.

“The origin of the word for canvass is Cannabis.  It was made from hemp. “

Tom Hammett teaches Sustainable Biomaterials in the College of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech.  He says, already, hemp has a built-in market here.  It could replace some 9-hundred million dollars’ worth, that’s imported, with hemp that’s locally grown.

An even bigger market than fiber may actually be oil, and not only the kind used for fuel. C-B-D known as cannabidiol is already showing up in medicines and soaps. Some of Hammett’s students are studying that market and working on those applications.

Now that it’s legal to grow hemp in Virginia, hundreds of people have already received state licenses to raise and process the crop.As of April 31st, 2019, Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services granted more than 6-hundred Industrial Hemp grower registrations and 92 registrations for processing the plants. A registration form for dealers has just been added but, none has been awarded, yet.

Researchers at Virginia Tech are looking at a vertical approach to this  new industry, from planting to to processing and marketing of products.  Tom Hammett says,

“Already we’ve got some investors who are watching the policy, the legal side.  I wouldn’t say they’re lining up, but there are already investors interested in coming to Virginia to invest in hemp processing.” 

Hammett has also heard from landowners here who are interested in growing hemp, not just in the field but also under more controlled, green house applications for high value.

“We’re looking at all different aspects of hemp and trying to fit it all together because a ‘value chain’ approach would be most effective.”  

Preliminary findings suggest, hemp fits into lots of scenarios that could lead to a greener, more sustainable economy and it’s possible that thousands of products manufactured today, could be made using hemp. There’s also interest in how it might help remediate abandoned coal minelands and former tobacco fields.

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You are invited to the Second Hemp Forum!

 

Saturday May 4 from 1 PM to 3 PM at the

Brooks Forest Products Lab

1650 Research Center Drive, Blacksburg

(across from the airport in the Corporate Research Center)

 

Our research group will give presentations on their work with all aspects of industrial hemp including CBDs, bioremediation, hempcrete, fertilizer regimes, and composites.  Please join us to network with others interested in hemp, and to discuss the prospects for developing hemp in this region.

 

Please share this reminder note widely!

 

For more information you may contact Prof. Tom Hammett, at 540-231-2716 or himal@vt.edu