We had a very productive and promising meeting with Sen Deeds Thursday afternoon!
A little background, current Virginia law bans industrial hemp farming throughout the commonwealth. The Virginia house and senate passed resolutions in 1999 and in 2001 pushing for industrial hemp cultivation in Virginia.These resolutions did not do anything to update Virginia law, rather they pushed the federal government to change regulations regarding industrial hemp cultivation.
Fast forward to 2014, now the federal government has cleared a path towards industrial hemp cultivation via the 2014 farm bill and pilot programs. Virginia on the other hand has not updated laws to legalize industrial hemp cultivation. All we need to do now is to get Virginia laws updates so we can take advantage of the pilot programs.
Sen. Deeds was familiar with some of the past Virginia resolutions and very positive on industrial hemp farming in general. We took some time during our meeting to focus on the current state of industrial hemp and brought Sen. Deeds up to date with the current federal legislation. Initially, Sen. Deeds was concerned with federal laws and regulations, however after discussing all of the activity over the last year most of the concerns were resolved. The only remaining concern after our discussion was DEA interference similar to the issues Kentucky dealt with in May.
The remainder of the conversation was the importance of getting farmers involved in the pilot programs and not solely university research as in Kentucky. Again, we had a positive conversation and more importantly support from Sen. Deeds.
The final outcome was exactly what we were hoping for. Sen. Deeds wanted some time to review the materials, get his bearings, and then follow up with us. Perfect!
The Virginia general assembly does no meet again until January 2015, so we have some time. We are hopeful that by January, we will have the opportunity to help develop pilot programs to launch in 2015!