Legalizing Weed: Key Players in Virginia’s Legalization of Industrial Hemp Farming

By Lea Terry   |   Tuesday, 17 Nov 2015 06:51 PM

In 2015, Virginia became one of the most recent states to legalize hemp. Hemp-based products are big sellers in the United States, despite the decades-long federal ban on the plant. The government banned it in an effort to crack down on the use of marijuana, to which hemp is related.
However, hemp is not a drug like marijuana, and instead is used to make thousands of products that consumers depend on. This includes food, fabric, building materials, and medicine. Because of the federal ban, American manufacturers imported hemp from countries that allowed its production. But in recent years, several states have established their own laws regarding legalizing hemp for industrial purposes.

The following people played a role in the legalization of hemp in Virginia.

1. Del. Joseph Yost (R-Pearisburg)
In 2015, Del. Joseph Yost introduced House Bill 1277, which set forth a definition of hemp that distinguished it from marijuana, as reported by The Southwest Times. The Times quoted Yost as saying: “Compared with other crops, industrial hemp is cost effective, environmentally friendly and resistant to many common pests. Dozens of other countries safely produce industrial hemp, and this legislation puts us one step closer to growing that industry in Virginia.”
2. Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance (D-Petersburg)
Sen. Rosalyn Dance introduced Senate Bill 955, a companion bill to House Bill 1277. Both bills passed through both houses of the state legislature.
3. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe
Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed House Bill 1277 and Senate Bill 955 into law in April 2015, as reported by The Virginia Gazette.
4. Jason Amatucci, founder and director of the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition
The coalition has long worked for greater awareness of the value of hemp and for the legalization of industrial hemp farming. Speaking after the passage of House Bill 1277 and Senate Bill 955, Jason Amatucci told The Virginia Gazette: “There is no reason it should not be legalized – not one good reason. If you hold it up to facts, then their (opponents’) argument crumbles. The fact that hemp is so valuable and proven to be one of the most amazing natural resources we do have, it’s actually quite insane that it was illegal.”

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