Plant Industry Services
2018 Federal Farm Bill
The 2018 federal Farm Bill includes hemp-related provisions that many expect will help advance the U.S. hemp industry. The 2018 Farm Bill establishes a new definition of "hemp" and removes hemp from the definition of "marihuana" in the federal Controlled Substances Act. The 2018 Farm Bill also establishes a regulatory framework for the commercial production of hemp and allows states wanting to have primary regulatory authority over the commercial production of hemp to submit for approval by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture a plan under which the state will monitor and regulate hemp production.
Upon the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and VDACS, in conjunction with the Governor's Office and the Superintendent of the Virginia State Police, as required by the Farm Bill, will review the hemp-related provisions of the Farm Bill and determine a course of action that will best-support Virginia's hemp industry. Until such time as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture establishes a federal licensure program for hemp producers or approves a Virginia plan for hemp regulation, the existing Virginia Industrial Hemp Research Program and the Virginia Higher Education Industrial Hemp Research Programs as well as the existing Industrial Hemp Grower and Processor Registration Programs remain in effect.
Questions regarding participation in the existing Virginia Industrial Hemp Research Program and the Virginia Higher Education Industrial Hemp Research Programs as well as the existing Industrial Hemp Grower and Processor Registration Programs may be directed to VDACS at Erin.Williams@vdacs.virginia.gov. Questions regarding the possession of hemp, including hemp-derived cannabidiol products, by someone in Virginia who is not a registered Industrial Hemp Grower or his agent or a registered Industrial Hemp Processor or his agent should be directed to your local law enforcement or Commonwealth's Attorney.
2014 Federal Farm Bill
Section 7606 of the federal Agricultural Act of 2014, which remains in effect for a period of time after the effective date of the 2018 federal Farm Bill, (i) allows an institute of higher education or a state department of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp if certain conditions are met and (ii) specifies that industrial hemp may not have a THC concentration of more than 0.3 percent.
Legislation enacted during the 2018 Session of the General Assembly created a new hemp research program effective July 1, 2018, in addition to the existing higher education industrial hemp research program, that is directly managed by VDACS and allows Virginians to grow or process industrial hemp without being a participant in a research program managed by an institution of higher education. This legislation also replaced the previous industrial hemp grower licensure program with a registration program for industrial hemp growers and processors.
VDACS is now accepting grower and processor registration applications for the Virginia Industrial Hemp Research Program. These are annual registrations that expire one year from the date of issuance. Please make sure to review the grower and processor registration guide prior to submitting an application.
PLEASE NOTE: VDACS is not engaging in research regarding the marketing of any hemp extract containing cannabidiol (CBD) or hemp-derived CBD oil at this time. As such, VDACS is not issuing a processor registration to any person planning to market a hemp extract containing CBD or hemp-derived CBD oil to a person who is not registered to participate in a hemp research program in Virginia. VDACS is currently seeking guidance regarding its ability to engage in market research of hemp extracts containing CBD and to issue a registration to a person interested in such market research in light of the hemp-related provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.
If you plan to participate as a GROWER in the VDACS-led hemp research program, you should complete the application labeled “OPPR-200.”
If you plan to participate as a PROCESSOR in the VDACS-led hemp research program, you should complete the application labeled “OPPR-300.”
Registered growers or processors may wish to provide the “Agent Documentation” form to each person you intend to serve as your agent for the limited purpose of growing or processing industrial hemp. You do not need to submit this form to VDACS.
As of July 1, 2018, all institutions of higher education, and not just public institutions of higher education, are eligible to engage in a higher education industrial hemp research program. Additional information regarding participating in a higher education industrial hemp research program will be provided soon.
Prior to July 1, 2018, VDACS entered into signed agreements with the following institutions of higher education to conduct industrial hemp research.
James Madison University (JMU)
JMU researching how effectively industrial hemp will grow in Virginia’s Ridge and Valley province and testing whether industrial hemp seed can be planted and harvested with conventional agricultural equipment. JMU is also investigating the use of industrial hemp seed oil in the production of biodiesel.
University of Virginia (UVA)
UVA conducting agronomic studies as well as studies aimed at establishing new molecular breeding and genetic engineering strategies to specifically enhance the biological properties of the hemp plant. UVA’s goal is to develop a Virginia hemp cultivar.
Virginia State University (VSU)
VSU is researching and analyzing required soils, growing conditions, and harvest methods related to various varieties of industrial hemp; conducting industrial hemp seed research; and studying the use of industrial hemp in new energy technologies.
Virginia Tech (VT)
VT is conducting agronomic trials to identify industrial hemp varieties that are well-suited to the soils and climate of Virginia and to compare yield responses to various agronomic treatments.
Section 3.2-4115(D) of the Virginia Industrial Hemp Law provides that all records, data, and information filed in support of an industrial hemp grower or processor registration application shall be considered proprietary and excluded from the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Despite this exclusion from FOIA, some registered processors have requested that VDACS provide the public with certain information.
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