The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved Virginia’s hemp plan, making the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) the regulator for hemp production.
Under the approved program:
- Applicants for grower’s licenses must submit a criminal history report to VDACS.
- THC field tests must be performed 30 days before each hemp lot is harvested, by approved private sampling agents and testing laboratories.
- THC test exceptions may be available to researchers and certain growers producing fiber hemp under contracts with fiber processors.
- Growers must report certain crop information to USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
“While the new federal hemp regulations require some adjustments to VDACS’s Industrial Hemp Program, we intend to continue the productive, supportive relationship we have had with Virginia’s hemp producers since our program was established,” said Brad Copenhaver, VDACS Commissioner. Copenhaver said operating the hemp program under requirements that apply federally will provide Virginia farmers “certainty and parity.”
Production of hemp throughout the U.S. must comply with the 2018 federal Farm Bill’s hemp provisions and USDA’s Domestic Hemp Production Program regulations beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
VDACS said it will consider program modifications to benefit Virginia’s industrial hemp growers if the federal government loosens up rules.
The Department was authorized to manage the hemp program under a state law enacted in 2019 following the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill’s passage.
VDACS said it is communicating directly with registered hemp growers regarding the new requirements, and the agency has released applications for THC sampling agents and testing laboratories.
Virginia is among U.S. states that have cleared the way for products that come from the leaves and flowers of industrial hemp. Two separate bills signed into law last year in the traditional tobacco state allow CBD in food and food supplements, and set rules for smokable hemp.
One law treats extracts as if they already have FDA approval, and regulates those products under that assumption. Among basic rules governing smokable hemp in Virginia, consumers must be 21 years or older to buy the products, which are also approved for sale in vending machines.
Hemp advocates in Virginia see hemp as having the potential to lift the fortunes of state agriculture, as tobacco declines; hemp can also be added to the crop portfolios of struggling dairy and other farmers, state officials have suggested.