Industrial hemp legalization bill sent to WV Gov. Justice

SAM OWENS | Gazette-Mail
People gather in the lower rotunda of the state Capitol to listen to speakers voice their support for the hemp industry during Hemp Day at the West Virginia Legislature on March 27, 2017. The state Senate voted Wednesday to effectively legalize the production of hemp for industrial purposes. The bill now awaits Gov. Jim Justice’s signature.

The West Virginia Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill that will effectively legalize the production of hemp for industrial purposes.

Pending Gov. Jim Justice’s signature, House Bill 2453 would allow the Commissioner of Agriculture to license any qualified producers and state institutions to grow and cultivate industrial hemp.

It also allows institutions of higher learning to grow hemp for research purposes.

Crescent Gallagher, communications director for the Department of Agriculture, said he’s pleased with the vote, and that industrial hemp could help jump-start the state’s economy.

“The department is looking forward to working with individuals who are interested in growing industrial hemp,” he said. “The hope is that hemp becomes a niche crop that helps grow our agriculture industries and spur economic growth to help diversify our economy.”

Grant Herring, the governor’s press secretary, did not make clear whether the governor would approve or veto the bill. He did say, however, that his office is looking over the legislation.

“We are currently reviewing the industrial hemp legislation,” he said. “Governor Justice has demonstrated that he is always looking for ways to bring new industries to West Virginia.”

The House of Delegates also unanimously approved the bill March 28.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5149 or @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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