CALS will research production, use, and economic impact of industrial hemp


Hemp can be used in food, pharmaceuticals, and fiber.

A new state law and the establishment of an industrial hemp research program by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have given Virginia Tech the ability to evaluate the potential for industrial hemp production in the commonwealth.

The bill Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law allows Virginia’s public institutions of higher education to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will be responsible for issuing the growing licenses.

“We look forward to working with our partners across the state to undertake research that has the potential to bring a new crop to Virginia’s already robust agricultural portfolio,” said Alan Grant, dean of the college. “Although we are only in the beginning stages of establishing this program, our research abilities — when combined with those of Virginia Cooperative Extension and our Agricultural Research and Extension Centers — can help this initiative grow and benefit the state.”

Fourteen states have established industrial hemp programs and are exploring how the plant can boost economic development. Retail sales of hemp-based products in the United States could exceed $300 million annually, according to industry reports.