After speaking with the Virginia department of agriculture and a few other sources. We have been made aware of four separate efforts to draft bills allowing for industrial hemp cultivation. We are still working to understand the scope of each version however.
The timing and scope are the greatest cconcern. With many states holding special legislative sessions to change industrial hemp laws (5 in the last few weeks), Virginia lawmakers are showing no sense of urgency. There is currently no talk of a special session prior to January 2015.
Virginia doesn’t need sweeping industrial hemp laws right now, we need to start small and get moving with pilot programs. The farm bill didn’t legalize industrial hemp, it meerly authorized state run pilot programs for research and marketing purposes. Sweeping reforms now would be pointless. Instead, we need simple exemptions to permit pilot programs that go no farther than what is permitted in the farm bill.
We absolutely want a comprehensive bill to pass. The legislative process will take years as noted by the VA department of agriculture. While we wait, the economics will become less and less favorable for Virginia farmers and small businesses. We need to focus on the pilot programs.