West Virginia Legalizes Commercial Cultivation of Industrial Hemp State Becomes Only The Third To Legally Distinguish Between Hemp And Marijuana

Monday, 11 February 2002

Charleston, West Virginia: Governor Bob Wise signed legislation into law redefining low-THC marijuana as an "agricultural crop," and permitting state-licensed farmers to grow it.  West Virginia is the third state to legally distinguish between marijuana and industrial hemp, and institute regulations allowing for commercial hemp cultivation.

Under the new law, which took effect on March 28, marijuana consisting of less than one percent THC is now categorized as "industrial hemp."  Local farmers wishing to "plant, grow, harvest, possess, process [and] sell" hemp commercially must apply to the state department of agriculture for licensing.  However, it is not clear whether the new regulations will allow state-licensed farmers to grow hemp without federal authorization.

Federal law prohibits any cultivation of marijuana, including hemp, without a federal license.  In 1999, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) licensed Hawaiian researchers to grow a one-quarter acre test plot of industrial hemp.  To date, however, no other federal applications have been approved.

Over 30 nations, including Canada, Japan and the European Union, license farmers to grow hemp for fiber and other industrial purposes.

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.  For a summary of all state hemp-related laws, please visit: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3395.